Can ADHD And Other Psychological Disorders Cause Teeth Grinding Or Bruxism?

In the realm of mental health, the connection between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and teeth grinding or bruxism has been a topic of interest and inquiry in recent years.

Bruxism has been observed frequently in people with overstimulated minds, anxiety, stress, and neurological disorders that are known to increase the risk of muscle tension in the body.

Today, we aim to delve into the possible correlation between these two conditions, shedding light on the potential role of psychological disorders, including ADHD, in the occurrence of bruxism.

We hope this knowledge can aid parents, patients with bruxism, and possibly some doctors as an introduction to this topic of discussion among the dental and psychiatric community, leading to more effective management and treatment for this condition, thereby enhancing the overall quality of life for those impacted.

What is Teeth Grinding or Bruxism?

Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding, refers to the repetitive and involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth. There are two types of bruxism: awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. Awake bruxism occurs when a person engages in teeth grinding while they are awake, often due to stress or anxiety. Sleep bruxism, on the other hand, takes place during sleep and is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. Sleep bruxism is highly disruptive to a person’s sleep hygiene, even if they’re mostly not aware of it.

The condition is prevalent in both children and adults, although the frequency and severity may vary. In children, it is estimated that around 14-50% experience teeth grinding and clenching at some point, with the majority outgrowing it by adolescence. Among older people, the prevalence is slightly lower, with bruxism in adult populations ranging from 8-10%.

However, it is important to note that these figures can vary depending on different populations and studies conducted.

Common Symptoms of Bruxism or Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is characterized by the involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth, often occurring during sleep or times of stress.

Common symptoms of bruxism include teeth grinding or clenching that may be loud enough to wake a sleeping partner in cases of grinding teeth at night, headaches, jaw pain or soreness, tooth pain and sensitivity, and, in severe bruxism cases, worn-down or broken teeth.

Some individuals may also experience facial pain, earaches, or disrupted sleep.

It is important to note that symptoms of bruxism vary, and not all individuals experience it the same way. For example, in some cases of nighttime bruxism or awake bruxism, patients only experience teeth clenching but no grinding, pain, or morning headaches.

But any symptom should be taken seriously before the effects of teeth grinding transform into permanent teeth or jaw damage that requires more invasive treatments later on.

Risk Factors for Bruxism

The presence of certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of a person experiencing bruxism and its associated symptoms, such as jaw pain and tooth damage.

While the exact cause of both types of bruxism is still not fully understood, certain factors have been identified as potential triggers.

  • Stress and anxiety are commonly recognized risk factors, as they can lead to increased muscle tension in the jaw. Stress-induced or anxiety-induced bruxism is one of the most common forms of the condition seen in patients.
  • Genetic factors are also in play, as those with bruxism in their family history are much more likely to develop it in life than those without.
  • Others include certain medications, such as antidepressants, and lifestyle factors, like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, in the case of bruxism in adult patients.
  • Bruxism in children is frequently the result of their baby teeth coming in and falling, the need for braces because of misaligned teeth, stress from school, trauma at home, or changes in their lives like moving or the death of a pet.
  • It is also worth noting that bruxism can be associated with temporomandibular joint disorders, which affect the jaw joint and surrounding muscles.
  • Sleep-related disorders like obstructive sleep apnea are also risk factors, although they can also be symptoms of teeth grinding in some patients.

To the point of our blog post today, individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be more prone to teeth grinding, along with other psychiatric or neurological disorders.

ADHD and Teeth Grinding

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, and it’s been suggested in recent years that there’s an association between bruxism and this disorder, possibly due to several factors around ADHD.

Understanding the relationship between ADHD and teeth grinding is crucial for effective treatment and management of both conditions.

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD, a common neurodevelopmental disorder, has been observed to have a potential correlation with teeth grinding or bruxism. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Although more common in school children, ADHD affects both children and adults, making it a lifelong condition.

While the exact cause of ADHD is unknown, it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Individuals with ADHD may experience difficulties with self-control, organization, and time management. They may also struggle with focusing on tasks and staying still. ADHD symptoms can cause sleep disturbances as well as increased stress and anxiety which may contribute to teeth grinding and clenching.

Connection Between Teeth Grinding and ADHD

Research suggests a potential correlation between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and bruxism, a condition characterized by teeth grinding. In general, there has always been an association between bruxism and several psychological disorders, and studies have found that children with ADHD are more likely to clench and grind compared to those without the disorder.

Research suggests that there may be a link between ADHD and teeth grinding. In children, for example, one systematic review and meta-analysis found that those with ADHD had higher rates of bruxism than the general population.

Another source has the rate at 50% of this disorder in children with bruxism.

Although the exact relationship between ADHD and bruxism is not fully understood, it is believed that the hyperactivity and impulsivity associated with ADHD may contribute to teeth grinding. Also, bruxism may be a way for individuals with ADHD to cope with stress and anxiety, albeit an unhealthy one.

It is important to note that not all individuals with ADHD will experience bruxism, and not all individuals with bruxism will have ADHD. Further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between these two conditions.

ADHD Medication Effects on Teeth Grinding

The impact of ADHD medication on teeth grinding is a crucial aspect to consider when examining the relationship between ADHD and this dental condition.

ADHD medications, such as stimulants like Adderall, have been found to potentially increase the risk of bruxism in some individuals.

This side effect is thought to occur due to the medications’ effects on the central nervous system, which can lead to increased muscle tension and involuntary jaw movements.

However, it is important to note that not all individuals who take ADHD medication will experience teeth grinding. The prevalence and severity of bruxism may vary among individuals, and it is essential to discuss any concerns with a healthcare professional.

They can guide managing this side effect and explore alternative treatment options if necessary.

Treatment of Bruxism from ADHD

When it comes to treating ADHD-related bruxism, there are several options available, ranging from medication, medication changes, and night guards to even innovative treatments like Botox injections. Most solutions for bruxism focus on treating first the immediate consequences and then looking to resolve the root causes.

Night Guards or Splints

Night guards and splints are commonly used as a treatment for people with sleep bruxism, which is the habit of teeth grinding or clenching while sleeping. So, these devices are specially designed to be worn during sleep to help protect the teeth and alleviate the symptoms of bruxism, like morning headaches, sleep disorders, tooth damage, and even jaw pain.

This is an essential solution for bruxism, either in individuals with ADHD or not, as night guards or splints can provide a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth, no matter the cause.


Psychiatric medications play a vital role in the treatment of bruxism associated with ADHD.

Stimulant medications commonly used to treat ADHD, such as methylphenidate (Concerta and Ritalin) and amphetamines, have been shown to increase tension in the jaw muscles, leading to teeth-grinding symptoms in some cases.

These ADHD medications work by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, which helps regulate motor control and reduce hyperactivity but can also lead to clenching and grinding in some people with different forms of ADHD while also increasing blood pressure in some cases.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate medication and dosage for managing their attention deficit and hyperactivity without leading to teeth grinding. Some healthcare providers will recommend using muscle relaxants or clonidine in conjunction with ADHD medication to counteract clenching and grinding.

Stress and Anxiety Relief

To address the issue of stress and anxiety relief in the treatment of ADHD-related bruxism, it is important to consider non-pharmacological interventions that can help manage these underlying psychological factors.

Stress and anxiety are commonly associated with teeth grinding, which can be a symptom of various psychological disorders.

Techniques such as stress reduction strategies, relaxation techniques and exercises, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can be effective in the management of bruxism, thereby reducing the occurrence of bruxism in individuals with ADHD or other psychological disorders.

Botox Injections

To address the treatment of ADHD-related bruxism, one potential option to consider is the use of Botox injections. Botox has shown promise in reducing teeth-grinding symptoms in individuals with ADHD or other psychological disorders.

Botox works by paralyzing the muscles responsible for grinding, thus preventing the excessive force exerted on the teeth. This treatment option may provide relief for those suffering from bruxism, improving their overall quality of life and oral health. More on this here.

Other Mental Health Disorders Linked to Teeth Grinding

In addition to ADHD, several other mental health disorders have been linked to teeth grinding or bruxism. These include anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, common childhood disorders, and movement disorders.

Understanding the potential connections between these mental disorders and bruxism is crucial in order to provide comprehensive treatment and management for individuals experiencing teeth grinding.

Anxiety Disorder

The presence of anxiety disorder has been identified as a contributing factor to the occurrence of bruxism. Anxiety disorder is a common psychological disorder characterized by persistent feelings of fear, worry, and apprehension. Individuals with anxiety disorder often experience excessive stress and tension, which can lead to teeth grinding during sleep or even during waking hours.

In some cases, medications may be prescribed to alleviate anxiety symptoms and potentially decrease teeth grinding.

Seeking professional help from a healthcare provider or dentist can provide valuable guidance and support for those experiencing anxiety disorder and its associated dental issues.

Sleep Disorders

How are sleep disorders and other mental health disorders linked to teeth grinding or bruxism?

Sleep disorders can play a significant role in the development of bruxism, with obstructive sleep apnea being one of the main suspects. Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by breathing pauses during sleep. The struggle to breathe during sleep can lead to increased muscle tension in the jaw, resulting in teeth grinding. More on that here.

Therefore, it is essential to address any mental health disorders at play to effectively manage and alleviate bruxism.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a common disorder in children characterized by a pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior toward authority figures. Mental health disorders, including Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), have been linked to teeth grinding or bruxism. This condition, characterized by persistent patterns of opposition, defiance, and hostility, can have detrimental effects on a child’s life.

Bruxism may be a result of the emotional and behavioral factors associated with ODD, such as stress and anxiety. Children with teeth grinding should be evaluated to determine if this or any other mental health disorder is the cause of their habit.

Other Personality Disorders

Teeth grinding, or bruxism has been linked to various personality disorders, highlighting the potential impact of these mental health conditions on oral health. Individuals with personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be more prone to bruxism. The exact mechanisms behind this association are not fully understood, but it is believed that stress and anxiety, which are common in personality disorders, can contribute to teeth grinding.

It is worth noting that certain medications used to treat personality disorders, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may also increase the risk of bruxism. These drugs can cause involuntary jaw movements and muscle tension, leading to teeth grinding.

A multi-faceted approach is recommended to manage bruxism in patients with personality disorders.

As already mentioned, this may include therapy to address underlying psychological issues, stress reduction techniques, and the use of a dental guard to protect the teeth from damage. Regular dental check-ups and a comprehensive review of medications are also essential in managing bruxism in this population.

Movement Disorders

Movement disorders are neurological conditions that affect a person’s ability to control their voluntary movements. These disorders can cause involuntary muscle movements, tremors, or spasms, which can contribute to teeth grinding.

One example of a movement disorder is Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and can lead to bruxism.

Another movement disorder associated with teeth grinding is Tourette syndrome, a condition characterized by involuntary tics and repetitive movements.

It is important to note that not all individuals with movement disorders will experience bruxism, but there is a recognized correlation between the two.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Some neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Intellectual Disability (ID), have also been associated with bruxism. Still, the relationship is not yet rock-solid, at least compared to the more studied link between ADHD and teeth grinding.

Understanding these associations is important for healthcare professionals who serve individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, as it can help in the identification and management of teeth grinding in these populations.

Don’t Delay and Seek Professional Treatment for Possible ADHD Bruxism

Seeking professional treatment for possible ADHD bruxism is essential for effective management and prevention of further dental health problems or complications. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can have detrimental effects on oral health, leading to tooth damage, jaw pain, and even temporomandibular joint disorders. When bruxism occurs in individuals with ADHD, it is crucial to address the underlying psychological disorder and its potential impact on oral health.

Professional treatment options for ADHD bruxism may include a combination of behavioral therapies, medication management, and dental interventions. Seeking timely professional treatment can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life for individuals with ADHD bruxism.

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