why do I grind my teeth

Most people are unaware of their teeth grinding and that it may have serious underlying causes and complications.

Bruxism or teeth grinding is a condition wherein your teeth would clench, grind or gnash involuntarily during sleep.

Perhaps you have heard so many theories of why some people grind their teeth and you may have conclusions of your own about this repetitive motion. Is it a sign of an idling brain, stress, anxiety or a disorder?

Understand what grinding is, its causes and what you can do to protect yourself.

Teeth Grinding Causes

Here are the most common reasons why people grind their teeth:

Stress or anxiety:  some people grind or clench their teeth as an involuntary reaction to stress. Others do it voluntarily until it becomes a habit. When stressed, they clench their teeth at daytime and the involuntary grinding worsens when they’re asleep.

Sleep Apnea

Do you snore when you’re asleep? While it is not clear if snoring or sleep apnea (poor breathing at night) could cause teeth grinding. But, most of the time, people who snore also grind their teeth.

  • Drinking coffee. Don’t drink caffeinated beverages in the afternoon or before going to bed. It is a psychoactive drug that increases alertness and muscle activity. Not only does it lessen your sleeping time, but it could cause teeth grinding while you sleep as well.


Antidepressants and other drugs used to treat mood disorders can cause teeth grinding.

Other causes:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • drinking alcohol before going to bed
  • misaligned jaw or teeth
  • drinking beverages with high citrus content


What can you do to fight off bruxism?

The treatment would depend on the cause of grinding. Here are some methods that work:

Dental Guards

There are a variety of mouth dental guards available on the market that can help reduce bruxism. You can also get a custom fit one from your dentist, but the price will be much higher. 

Alternatively, there are night guards that can be boiled at home, and custom fit in your mouth. We highly recommend these.

Occlusal splint           

Your dentist would ask you to wear protective teeth device or a bite guard on your teeth. While they don’t really stop your teeth from grinding, they can keep your teeth from damage. Over time, it can stop nightly clenching as well.


If your bruxism is caused by stress or anxiety, relaxation therapy can help you lessen grinding. Some of the most common ways to ease tension are the following:

  • meditation
  • focused breathing
  • aromatherapy
  • a warm bath before bed

All these activities can ease tension from your body and improve your sleep.

Dental work

Poor dental bite, misaligned teeth, and gum irritation could cause teeth clenching. Your dentist can make simple adjustments and corrections to solve your grinding issue.

Physiologic Alignment

This procedure involves relaxation of your facial muscles to improve its position. 

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.