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Teeth grinding in sleep: causes and treatment

teeth grinding in a sleep it is dangerous

Quite often people face the phenomenon of grinding teeth during sleep. It occurs for both adults and children (even very small babies). This phenomenon has different names – odonterism, bruxism. The second term is more common in the medical definitions.

Teeth grinding is really a serious problem, if it repeats often with same intervals, as it can lead not only to dental disorders, and gastroenterology. Therefore, it requires detailed consideration and discussion.

Why do people gnash teeth during sleep? What is a reason?

According to some research data, bruxism affects about 3% of the population. However, most likely, this number is purposely made low. Almost always, people cannot control themselves, even if sleeping very sensitively.

So many lonely people either never guess about the problem at all, or find out about it after a visit to the dentist. Because of this, the actual number of patients with this problem is actually much higher.

In many cases, it is difficult to determine what is really behind the occurrence of the disease. It can be a therapeutic, dental and neurological problem and often depends on the circumstances that lead to this.

Before considering the causes of bruxism, it is necessary to tell more about the symptoms, which very likely can be observed in patients:

  • Joint and muscle pain in the area of the jaw and facial muscles.
  • Headaches and migraines in the morning.
  • The pain from a strong muscle tension in the neck, shoulders and upper back.
  • Ringing and pain in the ears.
  • Stress and exhaustion due to poor sleep, the occurrence of insomnia.
  • Eating disorders and malfunction of the digestive system.
  • High sensitivity and irritation of eyes.
  • Depression.

Common and possible causes of bruxism


Malocclusion causes of bruxismMany dentists give as one of the first reasons malocclusion (wrong closing of the teeth), and incorrectly installed seals. In the second case, the problem is solved by a dentist-therapist and practically does not cause any complications if it was detected beforehand.

Malocclusion is harder to fix, but it is possible. This may take a long time, sometimes up to 10-12 months.

In addition, here we should also include the absence of a part of the teeth, which can not only lead to bruxism, but also to serious disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract if you do not do this immediately after removal or traumatic tooth loss.


It includes general pathology in a structure of the jaw joints, jaw itself and the front of the skeleton.

It is birth defects, which in most cases are diagnosed even at a fairly early age when correction is possible without much effort.

Stress and nervous overload

A lot can be attributed to this category. All kinds of stressful situations, constant anxiety because of problems at work or personal problems, bad habits, including the excessive use of alcohol, smoking (here is the influence of nicotine on the body), the personal reaction to caffeine, and so on.

All these factors can cause an increase in the brain activity, which causes uncontrolled and spasmodic contraction of the muscles responsible for the movement of the jaws.

Stress and nervous overload are the most common cause, spoken among doctors.

Other diseases

The tendency to bruxism is often observed among people with Huntington’s disease (a combination of mental illness and involuntary uncontrollable movements of various muscle groups) and Parkinson’s (tremor, muscle rigidity, and inflexibility).

In the case of a sudden sharp appearance of bruxism at an adult, he or she should necessarily pass an epilepsy observation as a disease may also be one of the causes of the problem.


Bruxism can occur as the habits to very tightly grit the teeth for some people. Most often it is experts whose work requires extreme concentration and making a multitude of small and very precise movements, such as watchmakers, jewelers, surgeons, neurosurgeons and many others.


There is a widespread non-medical opinion that strong teeth grinding during sleep are a result of worms in an organism, moreover, that their presence is directly linked to it. After many types of research, it was almost completely refuted.

However, there is a connection, though not quite straight. The fact that some types of common helminths which are parasitic in the human intestine, prevent the synthesis of B12 and vitamin absorption of the same group.

It is known that they are responsible for the normal functioning of the nervous system. This may be the cause of bruxism, in some cases, due to the individual characteristics of the organism.

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Bruxism in a child

The appearance of the disease in children, especially when grinding occurs at night all the time, is quite unpleasant, as it can lead to much greater health problems than for adults.

Most of the reasons coincide with those mentioned above, but there are some that can only occur for children or very different from adults in terms of content. We consider these in more detail.

Stressful situations and extra excitation

Children have more fragile and exposed to the influence psyche. This leads to the fact that even a situation which, in the opinion of adults, is not necessary to pay any attention, it could be a major factor of making stress.

For example, a birth in the family of another child, moving to another apartment or disorders in kindergarten.

Sleep disturbance

Sleep disturbance and bruxism teeth grindingThere are many types of sleep disorders, concerning as well its depth, some of which may be the cause of the children’s bruxism. Doctors usually refer this problem to the same class, that sleepwalking, and nightmares.


In most cases (80%) children grind their teeth during sleep due to enlarged adenoids.


Sometimes children can adopt this habit from adults or just inherit it. Most often it manifests itself among boys.


The appearance of bruxism can be seen even in the very small babies. Sometimes this is due to unpleasant sensations that occur during teething. In this case, gums itch.

In the dream, the child cannot get rid of it the other way, but to compress the jaw and try to scratch the gums. Because of this harsh rasping sounds appear. All of this happens unconsciously.

In addition to conventional methods of treatment, which will be discussed below, some other methods are recommended for children.

First, be sure to pay attention to what the psychological environment is created for the child in the different areas of his life. If a kid goes to kindergarten or school, you should talk to caregivers and teachers. A reason for stress and uncomfortable children’s mental health can be found at home as well.

Secondly, it is necessary to organize a clear and correct daily routine, food and so on. It is good to spend more time walking outside.

Sufficient and reasonable, age-appropriate physical loads (sports clubs, exercise, just walking, and so on.) are also very important. It helps to solve many psychological problems and their consequences.

Thirdly, be sure to review the way the evening is held. It is then that the child can get most of the load on the psyche. Nearest hours before going to bed is recommended to spend without a lot of active games, talking in a raised voice, computer, and TV.

Children feel much better if they just read a book, talk, listen to relaxing music good, even better than the classic.

Fourthly, it is necessary to control the time needed for sleep. If there are teeth grinding at night, the pediatric experts recommend trying to put your child to bed an hour earlier. If this method fails, still continue- it will not harm.

Most importantly, what we must not forget is that a child needs love, warm relationships, and parental care. Only then we can ensure needed at the family level of comfort that is especially important for children.


Bruxism, if it appears regularly every night, over several minutes can lead to severe abrasion (trimming) of tooth enamel down to the next layer.

This leads to the appearance of strong caries and permanent inflammation, loosening of teeth, malocclusion.

There are even changes in the structure of the jaw joints. These are dental problems, but they can also cause poor digestion and overall abnormal condition of the body.

Sleep disorders and not quite a full-fledged vacation worsens psychological comfort, increase susceptibility to stress and so on.

Since the problem of bruxism is recognized to be medical, to solve it physicians are needed, or treatment based on their advice.

The issue with psychological stress

This problem solving includes the identification of the causes of stress, the acquisition of skills to relax (music, books, sports, etc.), taking sedative drugs (often not strong), psychologist’s consultation.

Therapy that will not only help to identify stress, but also to develop effective skills to overcome it, and a successful exit of many conflicts, too, in many cases, there is a part of treatment.

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Wearing a mouthguard

aligner of gnashing teethDuring treatment, for many patients, it is recommended to wear a special device which is called mouthguard. It is worn on the upper teeth of the jaw to prevent their contact with the bottom.

Such devices are exclusively individual. With a cast, a dentist makes a mouthguard for each patient individually. However, wearing a mouthguard is not a proper treatment. It just helps to cope with grinding teeth at night for a while, but it does not solve the problem itself.

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