Experts from the National Healthcare Group answer your questions about teeth grinding in your sleep.
Question: I have been told that I grind my teeth in my sleep. It hasn’t caused any dental problems so far, but will there be damage to my teeth, long-term? Could the teeth-grinding be a symptom of a psychological issue? I am a 25-year-old man who has recently started a new job.
Answer: You are likely suffering from bruxism, an involuntary habitual teeth grinding. It is a complex disorder involving biophysiological and psychosocial factors.
Biophysiological factors include misaligned positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed and distortion in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) — the joint and muscles that control jaw movement.
Psychosocial factors include stress, anxiety, anxious personality traits, and neurodevelopmental disorders (such as ADHD — Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Sleep disturbances such as noise and light, as well as reduced sleep time, have also been linked to sleep bruxism.
In many adults, bruxism is related to TMJ Disorder (TMD), as well as sleep apnoea, a condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
To find the cause of your bruxism, I would recommend you consult a dentist. If the bruxism is due to TMD or sleep apnoea, you may be referred to a specialist.
Bruxism can be treated with an occlusal splint — a removable dental appliance moulded to fit the upper or lower arches of the teeth. This is worn at night to reduce the amount of grinding pressure on the teeth during sleep. Treatment may also include simple medication and physiotherapy.
To prevent bruxism and have a restful sleep, you should avoid playing video games or watching action movies an hour before going to bed. Try this simple relaxation technique:
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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