Daily Habits That Can Worsen Your Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Did you know you may be doing things during the day that are causing your nighttime teeth grinding habit to worsen?

You may be surprised to learn that certain daily habits can be bad for teeth grinders.

Getting to know what these daily habits are will help you avoid them, and may help you reduce teeth grinding issues at night.

Everyday habits that are bad for your teeth and jaw 

Even a simple habit, such as chewing gum, may be worsening your teeth and jaw. 

When you chew gum, you’re putting your teeth and jaw to work.

Doing this repeatedly makes it much more likely that you will do this when you aren’t chewing. Other habits may result in intensifying bruxism, too. 

Some of these are described below.

Chewing or Biting a Toothpick, Pen, Pencil, Ice

Chewing on gum or on different objects during the day may get the body used to clenching your jaw. This increases the likelihood that you will keep up this motion into the night. 

Also, if you are grinding your teeth at night, the teeth are already more vulnerable to cracking and eventual breakage. You must be careful when chewing on anything if your teeth already have fracture lines in them from bruxism. 

Consuming Drinks and Foods with Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant. If you consume caffeine from coffee, cola, or chocolate, then it can increase muscle activity. This includes jaw clenching. 

Can’t put down the caffeine? Consider wearing a mouth guard during the day to protect your teeth while you’re working, at the gym, cleaning house, etc. 

Smoking or Using Chewing Tobacco

There is nicotine in tobacco. This is a stimulant that can impact the signals sent from the brain to your muscles. If you are a heavy smoker, you are up to two times more likely to grind your teeth. In fact, smokers are up to twice as likely to grind their teeth more than non-smokers. 

Alcohol Consumption

Consuming alcohol can impact your sleep patterns and change the brain’s neurotransmitters. This may result in your muscles becoming hyperactivated. Over time, this can result in teeth grinding at night. Another factor that may contribute to severe teeth grinding is dehydration, which is a common side effect of heavy drinking.

Sleep Apnea and Snoring

While experts are not clear on why this occurs, many believe that teeth grinding is associated with the stress response created by the body for airway instability. This can trigger your brain to begin tightening the jaw muscles. A sleep study is recommended for anyone suffering from sleep apnea and teeth grinding as it could unveil other potential underlying causes. 

Certain Medication

Medications like illegal drugs, psychiatric prescriptions, and some antidepressants can affect the chemical responses and neurotransmitters in your brain. This can impact overall muscle response and cause teeth grinding. In some situations and for some people, having a change in the dosage or medication can help eliminate this issue.

As you can see, there are several potential causes of teeth grinding. Knowing what habits you participate in during the day can be beneficial in eliminating the problem. Using a quality mouth guard may also be beneficial to help reduce or eliminate the potential damage and issues that can occur due to chronic teeth grinding or jaw clenching. 

Some signs you’re grinding or clenching your teeth at night:

  • Waking up with a sore jaw
  • Teeth are sensitive to hot or cold
  • Your partner says they can hear you grinding your teeth while you sleep
  • Tiny fracture lines appear in the teeth
  • It hurts to chew food
  • You have popping or clicking in your jaw
  • Headaches and/or ear pain
  • Your teeth appear flatter

If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from bruxism (excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching) schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can determine whether or not you’re grinding or clenching your teeth and the level of severity.