Teeth grinding (bruxism) usually occurs at night while the sufferer sleeps, and normally it is first noticed by the person's spouse. In children, teeth grinding is likely to go unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. Teeth damaged by bruxismBruxism should be considered a serious health condition, because a sufferer's tooth enamel may be eventually destroyed, leaving effected teeth extremely vulnerable to decay. The cosmetic consequences can be terrible too. In the worst cases, the aftermath of bruxism requires the complete removal of teeth.

The dental and medical establishments usually recommend that sufferers wear mouth retainers (night guards) during sleep periods, to protect against further damage. While this is a wise option for some sufferers of bruxism, it is nonetheless important to note that this reflects an institutional policy of categorically ignoring all causes of this condition. The standard approach is, at best, a temporary suppression of a single symptom of some potentially serious underlying issues. It is like removing the batteries from a smoke detector, instead of fighting the fire that is causing the alarm. Teeth grinding is always a symptom of another health issue, so masking the symptom with a retainer should only be a short-term solution.

In some cases, teeth grinding is related to the presence of an underbite. It is unknown why an underbite increases the risk of bruxism. Nutritional therapies may not be enough to completely eliminate the problem in these cases. In a small subset of cases, bruxism can be the result of nerve damage, infection, or other factors that cannot be determined.

Nutritional Factors

Teeth grinding normally occurs because of nutritional deficiencies, so it can usually be corrected nutritionally. Since the condition typically indicates that the patient is malnourished, the wisest initial treatment option is to change the diet. It is unwise to merely compensate with supplements, or just mask the problem with a mouth retainer. Supplementation is somewhat effective, but supplementation is never truly an adequate replacement for a healthy (preferably organic) diet.

Scientific research of bruxism is sorely lacking, which is largely because mouth guards are considered to be an adequate treatment measure, and it is believed that there is little pharmaceutical money to be made from this disorder. Due to the lack of financial incentives, practically all available bruxism research is conducted outside of the United States, and most of the testing is based upon animal studies.

Recommended Supplementation

Vitamin B-5 This vitamin is found naturally in fish, chicken, and eggs. It is often sold in supplement form by its chemical name, pantothenic acid.
Magnesium and Calcium Magnesium and calcium always work together, and are nearly useless alone. In many cases, a magnesium deficiency is the root cause of bruxism. Magnesium is found in green, leafy vegetables, and nuts (especially cashews and walnuts). For certain individuals who do not eat enough vegetables, our Green Drink may be enough to solve the problem if drank regularly. Vitamin D is also necessary for proper absorption of magnesium and calcium, and it may be obtained by both sunlight exposure and by eating fish. Some individuals will not be able to get enough vitamin D due to liver impairment, which is usually a result of pharmaceuticals or heavy metal toxicity.
Potassium High levels of potassium can be found in bananas, tomatoes, potato skins, oranges or orange juice. It is in green leafy vegetables to a lesser degree.
Vitamin C This exists in almost all fruits, and it is in the highest amounts in citrus fruits.

Vegetarian and Child Victims

Vegetarians do not get an adequate amount of vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid), so bruxism is one of many diseases that plague them. Vegetarians attempt to correct their chronic malnutrition from their self-inflicted starvation with supplementation, but dietary supplements are only capable of augmenting an adequately nutritious diet. They can never replace it. Oral problems are often the first indication that a vegetarian's or a vegan's health is suffering from malnutrition. There are a disproportionate number of vegetarians with teeth grinding issues, which is unexpectedly high; even when their chronic vitamin B-5 deficiencies are accounted for with supplements. It is likely that there are necessary nutrients in meats and fish, which have not yet been identified by researchers. Whenever children experience bruxism, it is most often related to their refusal to eat vegetables. Therefore, the ideal diet is balanced.

Unusual Cases

There are some cases whereby a dietary problem is not the root cause of bruxism, but the diet is virtually always a factor. For example, teeth grinding is sometimes caused by anti-depressant drugs or other medications, because the drugs deplete the body of magnesium and other vital nutrients.

Nerve damage can also cause people to grind their teeth, even during their waking hours. This may be caused by anti-depressants or artificial sweeteners. In such cases, efforts should be made to stimulate nerve repair or regeneration. Effective techniques include supplementation with MSM, alpha lipoic acid, and the B vitamins, especially vitamin B-6 and B-12, which gained fame for their seemingly miraculous effects upon nerves. Healthy fats should also be incorporated into the diet, such as butter. The goat cheese and flax oil blend that is described in our Budwig Protocol article is ideal. For more information about repairing nerve damage, reference the Bell's palsy article.


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Ted Ostrow
# BruxismTed Ostrow 2013-02-03 17:16
An additional cause of bruxism is the abuse of central nervous system stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. One sign of being under-the-influence while awake is teeth-grinding. Law enforcement will note bruxism in their arrest reports for stimulent intoxication and DUI drugs.
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Ana Rose
# Ana Rose 2015-04-05 12:48
Thanks for this article. I am falling in love with this site in general--such a rich resource for all kinds of information!
On this subject, I figured out what causes bruxism, at least for me. I have had severe teeth grinding/clenching issues for many years, and after seeing this article, recognize myself as a typical case profile: vegetarian with a significant underbite (mostly superficially corrected through orthodontia at age 10, but braces only do what mouthguards do, which is merely address a symptom of an underlying dysfunction). My underbite gradually returned to a lesser degree over the years. I wore a mouth guard for about 5 years up until 6 months ago.

The issue with underbiters is that their back molars don't meet, leaving the nerve and muscle tissues connecting those teeth to the back jaw (which connects to the spine, etc) underutilized. Good strong chewing (often achieved with a good chunk of meat also--vegetarians don't usually get that same quality of intense chewing) would work these muscles, which occurs in healthy individuals with aligned teeth. Because of this alignment deficit, the jaw will compulsively attempt to compensate during the night to access those weak muscles, but is never successful because the middle molars hit first. Thus wearing down of the middle molars occurs, stressing out those associated tissues, while continuing to leave the back molars' muscularskeletal tissues neglected.

It is a remarkably correctable problem. Through jaw strengthening exercises (which I figured out on my own), I have not only corrected my underbite (seriously--my teeth are beautifully aligned now and my whole face looks different) but I don't suffer from bruxism anymore. I threw my mouthguard away, which doesn't fit anymore anyway. In addition, my hearing has improved (I've been mysteriously hard of hearing my whole life) and my upper back pain completely resolved too.
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Jan Groot
# Jaw strengthening exercisesJan Groot 2018-04-04 11:09
Hi Ana,

What jaw strengthening exercises exactly did you figure out on your own?

I also suffer from nightly bruxism and I would like to know these.

Kind regards,
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Jeanine Saia
# bruxismJeanine Saia 2018-07-12 20:10
Dear Ana Rose,
Thank you for your post. could you please share your jaw strengthening exercises with me also?

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# Jaw exercisesLisamarie79 2019-02-23 19:59
Can you share your jaw exercises with me please have severe TMJ issues and bruxism and lost 2 teeth recently because of this
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Sarah Hodgins
# Teeth GrindingSarah Hodgins 2015-05-25 21:37
I am interested to learn that it's caused by nutritional deficiencies! I have been grinding my teeth for years, and diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder & Depression, and I can actually wake myself up at night, because I am grinding me teeth so hard. I have had a bite plate but it was expensive and stop fitting after a while. I will have to check this out more! Thanks for posting it.
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