Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Causes and Treatments
Has your partner noticed you grinding your teeth at night? Perhaps you wake up with a stiff, sore jaw or develop dental damage but don’t know why. These are classic signs of a condition that is characterized by the clenching and grinding of teeth – bruxism.
Bruxism is much more common than you might expect. However, the symptoms are often overlooked or unnoticed – particularly if you don’t sleep with a partner who is able to tell you that you are grinding your teeth. Nevertheless, it can have a very real impact on your life and of course, your dental health.
Symptoms of bruxism
Teeth grinding may be the most obvious characteristic of bruxism, but it certainly isn’t the only one. Some of the other symptoms of this condition include:
- Pain and stiffness in your jaw
- Facial discomfort/pain
- Headaches, particularly first thing in the morning
- Teeth that are sensitive to hot/cold food and drink
- Teeth that seem blunt, eroded or undersized
- Chips and cracks in your teeth that seem to have appeared for no reason
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should arrange to see your dentist to determine if you could be suffering from bruxism.
Causes of bruxism and their treatments
Understanding the cause of bruxism is the best way to manage the condition and limit the damage that it can cause. Unfortunately, pinpointing exactly what is causing your bruxism isn’t always straightforward. There are various factors that can contribute to the development of the condition.
Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are believed to be two of the biggest factors influencing the development of bruxism in patients with estimates suggesting they are responsible for 70% of cases. This is because when we feel stressed or anxious, we naturally tense our bodies. This tension extends to our jaw and teeth which we may clench. This places stress onto the teeth, and this can cause damage to them.
Finding ways to reduce stress and anxiety will facilitate a massive improvement in your bruxism symptoms and your dentistry team will be able to talk you through the best ways of doing this. You may be referred to your general practitioner for relaxant medications or asked to consider alternative therapies such as yoga/Pilates, meditation and other similar techniques to bring calm into your life.
There are many different sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, talking in your sleep, sleep paralysis and sleepwalking. Studies have found that patients who are diagnosed with a sleep disorder are more likely to suffer from bruxism. If you think that you may have a sleep disorder such as those listed above, treatment may help to alleviate your bruxism symptoms.
The lifestyle choices that we make can influence a great deal relating to our health and wellness. Our teeth are no exception. Patients who smoke, drink alcohol regularly or drink too much caffeine are more likely to be affected by bruxism. By making a few changes to your lifestyle, you can significantly reduce your risk of experiencing episodes of bruxism.
Medication side effects
Most medications have some side effects. For some, this is an increased risk of clenching and grinding your teeth. This is often the case for drugs that are prescribed for psychiatric reasons, for depression and Parkinsons.
Orthodontics refers to the position of the teeth as well as the way that they come together when you close your mouth. Unfortunately, many people have naturally poorly-aligned teeth or bite problems that can make it more likely that they will grind their teeth at night. For example, if you have particularly long teeth that rub together when you close your mouth or talk, grinding them when you sleep is almost inevitable.
The good news is that there are a variety of orthodontic treatments available including braces and Invisalign. Which is right for you will depend on your unique circumstances.
If you think that you may be suffering from bruxism and would like to be assessed by our experienced team so that you can be treated before irreversible damage is done to your dental health, please get in touch with our dentistry offices in Coral Gables, FL.