Grinding or clenching the teeth is called bruxism in the dental world. Most people do not even realise they are doing this, nor do they have any control over it. It is like dreaming and often cannot even be heard!
It is estimated that around 10% of adults grind their teeth during sleep. If left undetected this may lead not only to damage to the teeth but also to neck and back problems. It is all connected!
Reasons for grinding or clenching can be:
Psychological and emotional stress such as fear, anger and anxiety. There is a strong link between teeth grinding and stress levels.
Sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea. This is where there is a temporary obstruction to the airway during sleep. Grinding of the teeth actually becomes a reflex action to help open the airway.
Bite imbalances, such as teeth that are missing or crooked.
Gastro-intestinal toxins, particularly from parasites may also cause grinding. Parasites secrete toxic proteins which can affect the nervous system and irritate the head, neck and jaw muscles. This is a reason why children often grind their teeth.