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Mom Is Grinding Her Teeth


My 80-year-old mother has developed the habit of grinding her teeth.  It does not sound that serious, but it is beyond annoying.  It is so loud that in a restaurant, other patrons are bothered.  Frankly, no one in the family can stand to be in the same room with her while she is doing it.  How do we get her to stop?



What Is Going On

Teeth grinding is a symptom of another problem in most situations. Elderly teeth grinding is not just an annoying habit. When someone grinds their teeth during the day, while awake I must add, there is usually something medical going on with the individual.

What You Should Do First

Your mother needs an appointment with her physician, and you need to go along with her. It is important that her physician knows the extent to which she is grinding her teeth.  I am sure that you know of the potential damage to Mom’s teeth, but that is not the only concern. Teeth grinding while awake is a behavior associated with one of a number of physical or mental health conditions. Dementia comes to mind first, but there are others.

Teeth grinding during the day is not the same as teeth grinding while asleep.  The latter is not that unusual by children and adults during periods of stress or while dreaming.  While hard on the teeth and worth exploring, it may not be symptomatic of an underlying medical condition, other than stress.  But when someone starts grinding his or her teeth during waking hours, there is often an underlying health issue. 


You may find it to be quite challenging to eliminate Mom’s teeth grinding. You may try taking advantage of distractions, mouth guards, substitutes, and massages.  The best person to guide you is her physician and possibly a specialist in Geriatrics if needed.

I wish you success with this.  Realize that as you go through the process of discovery, your mother is not grinding her teeth to annoy you.  She likely does not realize that she is doing it or feels powerless to stop.  Help her to find a solution. Start with a doctor’s appointment.