People can grind their teeth. When teeth grinding (bruxism) occurs beyond normal it can be due to imbalances of structural issues, out of balance biochemstry and or emotional stressor issues.
Muscles is what drives the teeth grinding activity. Teeth also send proprioceptive signals to the other opposing teeth when there can be some slight occlusal prematurities present, resulting in the muscles of the jaws to reposition themselves to accommodate the closing of the teeth (the bite) into some comfortable position. If the muscles can’t find a comfortable and stable jaw and occlusal bite position then the muscles will continue to activate and cause the teeth to grind. This is one aspect of teeth grinding.
Individuals with cervical neck muscle tension and occipital regions behind the head and neck can also exhibit grinding of teeth because these muscles are not stablilized or in a neutral state. Tight muscles need the support of a proper bite to allow the muscle resting length of muscle fibers to maintain a quality of physiologic rest. When the terminal contact (occlusal) position of the jaws is either over closed or posteriorly positioned relative to an unstrained mandibular position, the muscles will continue to strain, twist and torque and opposing structures trying to seek a neutral relationship. As long as hyperactivity of these straining muscles continues, the teeth that may be also mal aligned or lack vertical support will continue to grind (brux).
If there is upper airway nose obstructions and or tonsillar oral pharyngeal restrictions which effect the tongue which in return effects the mandibular positioning as in night time sleeping, the mandible can retrude and contribute to night time grinding with open mouth breathing issues. Again, check for occlusal imbalances.
Prescription medications that are often prescribed to relax muscles, anxiety or depression issues can also induce teeth clenching and grinding, further exacerbating normal muscle activity and thus the cycle of hyper muscle activity, with occlusal imbalances and muscle strains will continue.
A physiologic mandibular position is key to proper muscle and dental health. Proper vertical, antero-posterior and frontal/lateral positioning of the mandible to the maxillary arch is very important to maintain an isotonic (neutral) relationship so teeth don’t continue to wear down or further activate muscles unnecessarily to a level of chronic muscle occlusal activity.
Cooper, B: Temporomandibular Disorders: A Position Paper of the International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics (ICCMO), The Journal of Craniomandibular Practice, July 2011, vol 29,No.3, pp. 237-244.
Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C, Galán-Del-Río F, Alonso-Blanco C, et al. Referred pain from muscle trigger points in the masticatory and neck-shoulder musculature in women with temporomandibular disoders. J Pain. 2010 Dec;11(12):1295–304. PubMed #20494623.
Uma Shanker Pal, Lakshya Kumar,1 Gagan Mehta, Nimisha Singh, Geeta Singh, Mayank Singh, and Hemant Kumar Yadav2 : Trends in management of myofacial pain, Natl J Maxillofac Surg. 2014 Jul-Dec; 5(2): 109–116. doi: 10.4103/0975-5950.154810 PMCID: PMC4405950.
Tanit Ganz Sanchez and Carina Bezerra Rocha: Diagnosis and management of somatosensory tinnitus: review article. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2011 Jun; 66(6): 1089–1094. doi: 10.1590/S1807-59322011000600028. PMCID: PMC3129953.