Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19)   Read More

What Causes Teeth to Grind at Night and How Can I Protect My Teeth?

  1. Home
  2. Dental Videos
  3. General Dentistry Videos
  4. What Causes Teeth to Grind at Night and How Can I Protect My Teeth?

What Causes Teeth to Grind at Night and How Can I Protect My Teeth?

  1. Home
  2. Dental Videos
  3. General Dentistry Videos
  4. What Causes Teeth to Grind at Night and How Can I Protect My Teeth?

Hi. It’s Dr Michael Ghobrial here from Sure Dental at Wavell Heights in Brisbane. Last week I saw Adam, a new patient of ours who lives locally here at Wavell Heights. And unfortunately, he had cracked one of his molar teeth and it cannot be salvaged.

And the really tragic part is that this tooth had never been filled before. But what I told Adam is that he has pretty severe tooth grinding and clenching issues. And Adam’s actually a medical professional and wants to be well informed and to know what’s going on.

And so, he asked me a great question, “Well, Michael, what’s causing this? Why am I grinding my teeth? Why am I clenching my teeth?” It’s a brilliant question. It’s a complex question, but I thought I would record this video to answer that question of why do people grind their teeth and what can we do to protect them?

So, first thing is, there’s actually a lot of things we do know as to why people grind and clench their teeth. And there’s a lot of things we don’t know. Some people grind and clench their teeth due to stress. Sometimes it starts in a stressful period in their life where they’re clenching and grinding their teeth. And then, it wears a pattern in the teeth. It then becomes a comfortable habit and it continues on.

Some people will clench and grind their teeth because of certain medications they’re on. In other cases, people will clench and grind due to airway problems. So, sleep apnea or even pre-apneic conditions. 

Often we see the wear of front teeth and the back teeth are fine. And that can cause tooth grinding. Often it’s related also to reflux or acid erosion in the teeth. The teeth become softer and become easier to grind. And it’s easy to get into the habit.

Now, some patients will grind their teeth predominantly in their sleep, where we know there are some really high forces that can be produced. But other people will actually grind their teeth during the day, whether it’s while they’re driving, waiting at the lights, in front of the computer. Or for some people, who are very good at grinding, will do it both day and night.

Now, the type of grinding actually really determines how we protect the teeth. There are multiple ways to try to help with clenching and grinding and slow down some of the effects and the damage on teeth. And actually, we did all of these on Adam.

If the grinding and clenching is predominantly at night, we actually make a night guard. It’s called an occlusal splint. And it’s an acrylic splint that separates the teeth. We can idealise the bite with the splint, but also, put some habit breakers in there. But essentially, the patient ends up grinding and damaging their splint as opposed to their own teeth. And some patients find this a great help, actually relaxes the muscles. They can ease tension headaches and can be really helpful.

But if your clenching and grinding is predominantly during the day, then a night guard isn’t particularly helpful. And so in those cases, we look at using muscle relaxants. Something like Botox in the masseter muscle or the temporalis muscle can help reduce the amount of force so that you can’t clench as well. And that helps protect your teeth from clenching and grinding.

Other times, if the teeth have been significantly worn and we’ve worn through the outer layer, the enamel of the tooth, we need to look at going in and re-establishing the tooth structure that was there. And creating little guides and protections that we normally have in nature.

Normally we have canine guided or protected occlusion. And so, by developing these ramps with buildups, whether they’re with resin, whether they’re with porcelain, and re-establishing the tooth structure that was there in quite severe wear cases. And then, we protect that with a night guard or Botox.

So, that’s some of the reasons for tooth clenching and grinding, and some of the ways that we manage it. If you have any issues with teeth wearing or the tension in your jaw, and want a professional opinion on how to manage it, you’re welcome to shoot us a line on our social media, fill in the form on our website suredental.com.au. Or give us a call on 07 3256 9111, and our friendly team will help you organise your consultation. I hope you found this video useful, and I’ll see you at the next one.


The content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. Sure Dental does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the content.

The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional personal diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental or medical condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read or seen on the Site.


Services we mentioned:

Related Articles

Ready to get started?

Just fill in this form and we will be in touch

This team honestly does such a great job. It’s the first time I have felt truthfully informed about my ‘whole of mouth’ picture. From start to finish they treat you with respect and are committed to achieving life long results. Could not have asked for anything else.

Bobby M


I’ve been coming to Sure Dental for many years and have always been thrilled with their patient care, wonderful customer service and proactive approach to my oral health. It is always a pleasure coming here, their staff are fantastic and I am completely confident that my teeth are in great hands.

Christopher J.