Teeth Grinding and GERD

Teeth Grinding and GERD

The Brux Doc The Brux Doc
5 minute read

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a common issue that can occur both during the day and night. If you find yourself clenching your jaw gritting your teeth or rubbing them together during the day, then it is likely you do the same while sleeping.

When teeth grinding happens during sleep, it can be classified as a sleep disorder. Stress is the most prevalent trigger of grinding and clenching while waking or sleeping. However, other triggers exist, such as bite misalignment, sleep apnea that disturbs sleep and causes stress, some antipsychotic drugs and SSRI anti-depressants, and many illicit drugs, like cocaine and amphetamines.

GERD is another common condition, and it is one that is often linked with teeth grinding though the relationship is not fully understood. GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. One theory posits that the highly acidic stomach contents rising up the throat (as happens with GERD) causes tension in the jaw because of the body’s attempt to keep the acidic contents from reaching the mouth.

Whatever the case, many people have to address both GERD and teeth grinding in order to ensure that their teeth are well protected against damage.

The combination of teeth grinding and GERD can damage teeth badly.

Teeth grinding, both daytime and nighttime, causes frequent pressure on the teeth and friction between the teeth that can lead to cracks, chips and fractures. The pressure can even inflame the gums over time and increase the likelihood of gum disease.

Signs that you are grinding your teeth at night include headaches, soreness in the jaw or neck, tooth sensitivity, and signs of wear and tear on the teeth.

Meanwhile, GERD also wears down the teeth because it exposes the teeth to stomach acids that corrode the enamel over time. Having both of these conditions at once can do a lot of damage to your teeth in less time than it would take just one condition to cause serious harm.

Some of the same things trigger both teeth grinding and GERD.

Certain lifestyle changes can help both conditions. Both GERD and teeth grinding can be exacerbated by consuming caffeine and alcohol. So, cutting back on or eliminating both of these substances from your lifestyle can lead to significant improvement.

Stress can also worsen symptoms of both GERD and teeth grinding. So, incorporating more stress-relieving activities in your days will help you reduce the issues affecting your mouth and stomach.

Exercising regularly can help reduce stress and anxiety. Eating a healthy diet keeps your digestion regular and calms your body. Practicing yoga or meditation or simply carving out time in your day or week to do something quiet that you enjoy, like reading or gardening, can make a big difference in stress levels.

How do I treat GERD?

Outside of the above advice, you will want to work with your doctor to create a plan for addressing GERD. The doctor may start you on over-the-counter medication that cuts down on your stomach acid. You will likely want to identify foods that trigger particularly back acid reflux. Often spicy foods, fried and high-fat foods, carbonated beverages, and tomato and citrus-based foods make it on the list of stomach irritants.

If none of these addresses the extent of the problem, your doctor may recommend one of two surgeries that can help stomach acid from rising up your esophagus. However, most instances of GERD do not call for surgery.

How do I address teeth grinding?

The first thing to do is find out whether you have a bite misalignment that is triggering your teeth grinding. If you do, you need to address it. If not, then reducing stress is usually the most important thing you can do to help prevent teeth grinding. Practice relaxation techniques when you feel anxious and create a wind-down routine to follow before bedtime.

Consider whether you are on any medications, such as SSRIs, that might be triggering the issue.

Use a mouth guard to prevent damage. A mouth guard is a simple device that fits around your upper or lower teeth to prevent damage. While a guard cannot eliminate grinding, it can keep you from chipping your teeth or wearing them down.

If you know you experience a lot of anxiety, ask your doctor about anti-anxiety medication.

As mentioned above, avoid or cut back on alcohol and caffeine. And, of course, avoid all illicit drugs as they cause stress to the body.

If you snore, have your doctor test you for sleep apnea. This is a condition in which you stop breathing for periods of time while sleeping, which, in addition to harming your body, can lead to interrupted, fitful sleep and increased teeth grinding.

For more information on mouth guards (also known as night guards), visit TeethNightGuard, or, to learn more about oral health, sleep issues, and teeth grinding signs and treatment, visit our blog.

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