Some experts in dentistry, neuroscience, psychology, and orthopedics are starting to consider teeth grinding as more of a behavior (like yawning or sneezing) rather than a disorder.
Throughout a night’s sleep, most of us experience ‘Rhythmic Masticatory Muscle Activity.’ Bruxers have more frequent and intense 'RMMA' episodes, which leads to teeth grinding and clenching.
RMMA is important for two reasons: 1) it opens up the airway for incoming oxygen; 2) it stimulates salivary glands to lubricate the mouth and neutralize gastric acids.
These reasons are what have researchers wondering whether bruxism is actually a normal behavior. For example, alcohol usage causes loose neck muscles at night, which then trigger RMMA episodes in order to restore airflow. Bad posture could also increase RMMA activity.
Furthermore, an acidic diet will increase mouth pH levels, which then activates RMMA to stimulate salivary glands. Acid reflux brought about by increased stress levels may lead to even more teeth grinding.
And so, managing your diet, sleep patterns, posture and stress may be the key to mitigating your teeth grinding.
From that NY Times article published last year, Frank Lobbezoo, a bruxism researcher and professor, states “It’s not abnormal to brux…In fact, it can be good for you.”