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Researchers estimate 12-31% of adults grind their teeth at night, most of whom are undiagnosed. The most common cause of teeth grinding while you’re awake is stress and anxiety. The most common cause of teeth grinding while sleeping is a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. Here’s a list of seven common causes of teeth grinding.

1. Sleep Apnea

Many experts agree that the most common underlying causes of nighttime teeth grinding are sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing. If you grind your teeth at night, it’s likely your brain signaling you to grind your teeth so you wake up just long enough to start breathing again. Sleep apnea may be caused by poor airway health—when your tongue is too big for your oral cavity, obstructing the upper airway and resulting in halted breathing during sleep.

2. Chronic Stress

Stress is known to cause people to clench their jaw muscles and grind their teeth.

3. Anxiety/Depression

Both anxiety and depression have been linked to teeth grinding, particularly daytime grinding. To treat anxiety or depression disorders, doctors may prescribe medications or recommend psychotherapy.

4. Tobacco and/or Alcohol Use

Tobacco use and excessive alcohol use are major risk factors for both teeth grinding and sleep apnea. Exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with nighttime grinding in children.

5. Genetics

A 2016 study published in Sleep supports the idea that sleep bruxism is inheritable, or genetic. If you know you are at higher risk of bruxism due to genetics, you can eliminate other risk factors, like smoking, drinking, and daily stressors.

6. Misaligned Teeth

Crooked or misaligned teeth are considered a leading cause of teeth grinding, especially at night. When your teeth are misaligned, you have an abnormal bite, also known as a “malocclusion.” This puts you at higher risk of teeth grinding during the day or at night.

7. Vitamin Deficiency

It seems strange, but in rare cases, a nutritional or vitamin deficiency may result in bruxism, including vitamin B5, magnesium, and calcium.

Schedule a Visit to the Dentist

Are you having issues with teeth grinding?  Schedule an appointment today and we’ll help you find the solution that’s right for you.