What does it mean when my husband clicks clicks his teeth?

Katee asked...

It's almost like he is cold and chattering his teeth but he states he is not old and doesn't know why he "clicks". He does not have false teeth. It appears to be involuntary. As soon as he realizes it, he stops the behavior. Any ideas?

Expert Answer

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

When your husband clicks his teeth it could mean he is feeling nervous and this is the way he expresses it.

My father had dementia and he clicked his teeth or hummed a tune.

The Caring.com site offers articles on grinding teeth (bruxism), but this clicking is different.

I suggest you track for a week or two when your husband clicks his teeth. Take a sheet of paper and keep it in an easily accessible place. Then note the date and time, where he is, and what he is doing. If you can note his emotional and mental states, your record will help you to see a pattern in his behavior.

For example, I observed my father clicking his teeth when we were walking the aisles in the store shopping. Another time he did it when we were at the attorney's office. Another time, while in the nursing home. This list goes on.

He was stressed by too many choices (store), by his fear of making a decision (attorney's office), or not understanding (nursing home).

The dentist suggested making a mouth guard. I declined since the dentist said it was not harming his teeth (the clicking is very light). Besides, he would have lost the mouth guard in the nursing home.

Start keeping track and then add an answer/comment to this post. Your experience may benefit other caregivers who encounter this behavior.