Dental Effects of Stimulants

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant, an amphetamine, and a reputed study aid, among other things. It also may cause grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw.

Why People Take Adderall

Prescribed most often for the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, Adderall allows people who have trouble concentrating to increase their focus and sharpen their attention. Adderall gives them the ability to study normally.

Unofficially college students use Adderall to do without sleep so they can study and/or party, though there is some doubt that it actually helps individuals without ADHD or narcolepsy, other than as a placebo. Some use it into adulthood, believing it gives them an edge in the office.

Like any drug, Adderall has undesirable possible side effects—literally dozens—especially when used for other than the prescribed purpose.

Why Do Stimulants Make You Clench Your Jaw?

One such side effect that is often overlooked is clenching the jaw and/or grinding the teeth, also known as bruxism. In terms of severity, teeth grinding isn’t a life-threatening condition like a stroke or respiratory failure, but Adderall bruxism can still be a serious matter.

How Adderall abuse leads to teeth grinding and jaw clenching, according to one dentist, is an evolutionary priority reinforced by the use of stimulants: we instinctively want our teeth to meet to prevent injury to the soft tissues deep within the mouth. So we bite down. Hard.

Bruxism isn’t just a behavioral problem, a bad habit. It has physical as well as psychological consequences: it may damage the teeth and jaw.

Other Dental Side Effects of Adderall Abuse

Adderall teeth grinding can cause the fracturing, chipping, or flattening of teeth, wearing down the enamel, leading to pain and tooth sensitivity. The inside cheek may also get chewed up. The sound also can wake up a bedmate or even the tooth grinder.

Clenching can cause other problems, including tiredness; a painful or sore jaw, neck, or face muscles; headaches; and what seems to be earaches. Sleep patterns may also be disturbed by Adderall teeth clenching.

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What Else Causes Clenching and Grinding?

While bruxism can be caused by prescription stimulants, such as Adderall and antidepressants, it also is a consequence of ADHD and sleep disorders. It can be either the cause or the reaction.

Mental health disorders such as stress, anger, and frustration, or having an aggressive or competitive personality type, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, dementia, or a family history of bruxism are other possible factors.

Teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and Adderall abuse also may be a flawed attempt to cope with some other co-occurring mental health issue that also needs treatment.

How to Find Treatment for Adderall Abuse

There are two ways to treat bruxism: by treating the symptoms and treating the underlying cause.

Treat the Teeth

While grinding and clenching your teeth aren’t pleasant, if your main concern is the damage being done to your teeth, you can protect them by wearing a mouth guard or splint. This is a plastic or acrylic cap that you place over your upper or lower teeth, usually when you go to bed, to prevent grinding in your sleep.

If the damage is already done, your dentist can put on crowns or reshape the tops of your teeth or, if necessary, otherwise repair or replace the affected tooth.

Treat the Underlying Condition

Bruxism isn’t usually a problem in itself but a reaction to another problem. This other problem needs to be addressed. Possible causes:

  • Adderall. Other medications can control ADHD and narcolepsy. If you are using ADHD medication for other purposes, such as alertness, you should consider seeking substance use disorder rehab treatment.
  • Sleep disorders. If your teeth grinding is due to sleep apnea or a related cause, your doctor might recommend a sleep therapist.
  • Acid reflux. Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), this is when stomach acid washes back into the esophagus. There are over-the-counter medications that can help.
  • Stress or anxiety. Learn to manage them with relaxation techniques such as meditation or mindfulness, or see a therapist to learn better ways to cope with them.
  • Improper biting behavior. Sometimes if you are aware of the problem, you can learn to control, change, or stop it. Biofeedback (techniques to learn how to control your body’s automatic functions) is a related option.

While there is little evidence that bruxism without an underlying cause responds well to medication, some doctors try muscle relaxants, Botox, antidepressants, or antianxiety medications.

Also, don’t have any caffeine or alcohol before bedtime. Those substances may be too stimulating in the wrong way. Also, drink lots of water and get enough sleep. Sleep may be the best medicine of all.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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