Bruxism is the involuntary grinding of teeth and research tells us that at least half of the population does it occasionally. 5% of the population, however, are regular teeth grinders and while many people only do it while they are asleep, some people also do it while they are awake. Knowing what your teeth grinding causes are is an important step in being able to treat your conditions. This post will explore some of the causes of bruxism and offer some insight into treatment modalities that can help you to overcome it.
If So Many People Do It, What’s The Problem?
Even though bruxism is fairly common, prolonged or regular grinding can cause complications. The problem is that if you are grinding while you’re asleep, you might not even know that it’s happening. Here are some of the telltale signs that you could be suffering from bruxism while you sleep
- You notice cracks or chips in your tooth enamel
- Your dentist notices unusual wear on your teeth
- Your jaw muscles hurt or your jaw has limited movement
- You suffer from morning headaches or ear pain
- You are straining your temporomandibular joint
- Your bed partner notices it
What Are The Risk Factors For Teeth Grinding?
These are the risk factors that may contribute to your teeth grinding causes:
- You are under a lot of stress or experiencing acute anxiety
- You drink alcohol
- You are a smoker
- You drink a lot of caffeine during the day or too close to bedtime
- You snore or suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea
- You are taking pharmaceutical or narcotic drugs such as antidepressants, cocaine or amphetamines
What Are The Primary Teeth Grinding Causes You Should Consider?
Teeth grinding may occur as a result of one or more of the following causes:
Grinding can happen during the night or day when you are under extreme stress. If your job is highly stressful or you feel anxious about life events you might find yourself clenching your jaw during the day or biting down on a pen or pencil.
Become aware of when your jaw starts to feel tense and what is going on around you when it happens. Practice opening your jaw slightly and pressing the tip of your tongue through your jaws to hold them open if you feel yourself tensing up.
Certain medical conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease may cause teeth grinding.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition or believe the medication you are taking could be contributing to bruxism, discuss your options with your doctor.
If you are grinding primarily at night, are overweight, and are over the age of 60 it is possible that your bruxism is caused by obstructive sleep apnoea, which needs to be investigated.
If you have a jaw misalignment, crooked teeth or fillings that are built up too high, it can cause you to grind at night.
What Are The Primary Teeth Grinding Causes In Children?
Children grind their teeth as they grow up and go through different stages of life. Prolonged teeth grinding in children may be the result of
- The loss of baby teeth and the emergence of adult teeth
- Certain medications
- Lifestyle stress and anxiety
- Certain medical conditions such as ADHD or cerebral palsy
How Can Teeth Grinding Be Managed?
As we mentioned above it’s important to evaluate what is causing your grinding in order to adopt the most appropriate treatment strategy. Sometimes a combination of approaches is required. You may need to
Learn stress management techniques
Finding ways to relax and unwind can assist you in managing your stress levels during the day, so you can sleep undisturbed. Calming practices such as yoga and meditation, as well as regular daily exercises, can really help your body and mind to manage the effects of stress.
Review your medications
Speak to your medical practitioner about any medications you are taking that could contribute to bruxism.
Make some lifestyle changes
Bruxism could be an indication that you need to limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. It might mean reducing your consumption or ensuring you don’t drink coffee or alcohol after a certain time in the afternoon. If you are taking recreational drugs, you would need to eliminate those too.
Change your sleep routine so that you give yourself time to unwind before bed. Dim the lights, have a warm bath and switch off electronic devices a few hours before you try to sleep. Make a conscious effort to slow and calm down in the evenings. Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep and going to bed at a similar time every evening.
What Treatments Are Available For Teeth Grinding?
Restorative dental treatment
If you have been grinding for a while and have caused damage to your teeth, you will need to have your damaged teeth restored.
Wearing a splint or mouthguard
Protecting your mouth and teeth with an oral mandibular splint or mouthguard is necessary, whether you have uncovered the cause of your teeth grinding or not. The device will not stop you from grinding but it can prevent further damage to your teeth and jaw while you try to identify the causes of grinding.
If your grinding has been caused by obstructive sleep apnoea, wearing a mouthguard can help to prevent apnoeic episodes at night. This is a potentially dangerous condition where the air passages collapse at night during sleep, preventing you from breathing properly. Your brain jolts you awake when it realises you are not getting enough oxygen, causing poor quality sleep and a number of other health complications.
For help in identifying your teeth grinding causes, or a customized approach to treatment, please get in touch with us: