Teeth grinding is a very common problem. It’s not unusual for someone to not be aware that they are even doing it. It is more common at night since during the day, most people can catch themselves in the act. Stress is the most common reason for grinding. While sleeping (called nocturnal bruxism), it becomes an outlet for the normal stresses involved in everyday life. Another cause can be an uneven bite and the body’s reaction to try to even it out by subconsciously gnashing the teeth together in an attempt to even everything out.
Untreated teeth grinding can cause pain in the jaw joint (temperomandibular joint) and the surrounding muscles. It can also lead to premature extreme tooth wear necessitating major dental reconstruction.
To counter the problem, if the grinding is present during the daytime, I tell my patients to try to catch themselves doing it. If they find that they are clenching, then they should have “lips together, teeth apart”. This has been very successful for many of my patients. However, most of the grinding problems occur at night. In that case, it is best to build a nightguard, a plastic mouthpiece, to help prevent any further damage from occurring.