Patient Questions

Bruxism – Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common reasons why people grind their teeth? 

Causes for teeth grinding/clenching or bruxism are complex. Teeth grinding could be caused by airway problems, stress, uneven bite, small jaw, large tongue, a neurological disorder such as Parkinsonism, antipsychotic & antidepressant medications.

Are there vitamin deficiencies that can contribute to teeth grinding? 

Vitamin D deficiency is one of the reasons that some of the articles and sources identify as a factor for bruxism. However, there are limited studies done on this correlation and more research is needed.

Can dental disorders contribute to teeth grinding? 

In the development of the mouth, If the tongue is not seated on the palate during swallowing and occupies a higher position, the mouth will stay narrow, which can lead to a narrow nasal cavity and breathing disorder. The mouth is then forced to take in the air, the tongue may be in the way and the jaw has to move forward to open the airway. In the process of moving the jaw forward, muscles are activated that can cause teeth grinding.

If the bite is uneven, the muscles are hyperactivated to close down leading to teeth grinding.

If so, which ones might cause it? 


Are there medications that can cause teeth grinding? 

Some anti-antipsychotic medications belonging to the group known as SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can lead to teeth grinding due to the effect of these medications on muscles. Medications such as Prozac and Cipramil to name a few.

What are treatments options for bruxism?

  • If the patient has an uneven bite, symptomatic relief can be achieved with the use of a properly designed nightguard that temporarily corrects the bite and therefore reduces muscle activity. 
  • With patients who suffer from airway problems such as sleep apnea, CPAP or sleep appliances can be used to help them breathe better. 
  • For patients who have structural issues, such as small jaws or crowded teeth, orthodontic treatment or double-jaw surgery may be necessary to create a wider arch of the mouth.

Are there behavioral strategies to help me stop clenching my teeth in my sleep? 

Activities such as exercising or meditation are effective in reducing the stress that could be causing you to clench your teeth. Another behvaioral change that helps you reduce clenching is practicing to keep your teeth apart and to place your tongue between your teeth. You can also get professional help from a Myofunctional therapist to help you make this behavioral change happen.

Are there pharmacological treatments? 

You can get symptomatic relief with muscle relaxants such as Flexeril. You can also inject neurotoxins such as Botox into your muscles which can reduce bruxism by decreasing muscle activity.

What are some problems caused by non-treatment?

In the long run, untreated bruxism can cause severe damage to your teeth and also general health as it affects breathing. Bruxism is only an expression of more serious underlying problems. 

For example, airway problems can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. 

Hyperactivity of the muscles in an uneven bite causes the teeth to wear down and eventually lose back teeth support. As the teeth get flatter and do not sit in their normal position it leads to difficulty in chewing.

TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) worsens due to lack of back teeth support. 

Dr. David Cheng

A practicing dentist with over 30 years of experience and more than 3500 hours of continuing studies. He lives in both Toronto, Canada and Seattle, WA. Besides writing for this website, he practices dentistry in different clinics in Canada and mentors other dentists in the USA and Canada.

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