The Knight Guard Blog

What genetic and environmental factors could be causing you to grind your teeth?

The cause of your grinding could be for a number of reasons. These all typically come down to a range of either genetic or environmental factors.

There are some surprising genetic factors that could be causing you to grind your teeth. Often if you have misaligned non-straight teeth, the likelihood of you grinding your teeth will be increased. The same goes for if you have a misaligned jaw, an overbite, under-bite or cross-bite. Similarly, if you have a hyperactive jaw you will also be at a higher risk of teeth grinding or clenching.

Unfortunately, there is a limited amount you can do to manage these genetic traits. But perhaps be aware if you know these genetic traits apply to you, watch out for the symptoms of grinding.

We often talk about some of the environmental factors that can have an impact on whether you grind or clench. If you notice you have randomly started grinding, perhaps reflect on the factors discussed below. Have any of the following impacted your life in some way recently?

The number 1 environmental cause for grinding is, yes, you guessed it, stress. Why? Stress and anxiety are thought to affect hormones such as adrenaline and norepinephrine. This then affects our reflexes, more specifically, in our jaw and mouth. Stress can also lead to an imbalance in these hormones which will also lead to individuals grinding. These effects will commonly last the time of the stressful period. However, in some cases grinding whilst stressed can lead to habitual grinding.

Stimulants can also play an impact on tooth grinding. Stimulants including caffeine, nicotine or explicit drugs will often trigger grinding. The reason for this? They will also have an effect on your reflex movements that cause you to grind. Smoking cigarettes just before bed will leave you at a higher chance of grinding. If you notice your teeth aching or other symptoms of grinding think about what stimulants you have been consuming lately.

Following on from stimulants, alcohol can be a huge contributor to teeth grinding. Perhaps because it is common for Aussies to drink before bed or have a few drinks when they are having trouble sleeping. This to can cause your jaw to have hyperactive movements. But it can also be related to the quality of sleep, as sleep can often be interrupted. It can also cause you to become dehydrated which never helps. So if you are drinking before bed, try to have a nice big glass of water before hitting the pillow!

Lastly, SSRI anti-depressant medication can often cause teeth grinding. Why? This affects the serotonin levels in the brain. Increased serotonin levels have been closely linked to jaw clenching and teeth grinding.

The good thing about environmental factors leading you to grind, there is typically ways you can manage or reduce the effects. Do you think you know the cause of your grinding? Or do you think there’s something you could be doing to ease the effects?

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