Understanding What Is Bruxism: Why Does Teeth Grinding Bruxism Occur?
In some people, bruxism is due to a misaligned bite or crooked teeth. In other people, teeth grinding is thought to be caused by stress and anxiety, and is more common when you are awake. A sleep disorder called sleep apnoea may also cause teeth-grinding bruxism.
Understanding the cause of your bruxism is an important step in adopting the most appropriate treatment.
Understanding Teeth Grinding In Children
Lots of children grind their teeth. In fact, up to 33% of children go through a grinding phase. In many cases, it is a temporary event and can go away on its own without intervention. Sometimes bruxism in children is caused by
- Obstructive sleep apnoea
- A misaligned bite or mouth irritation
In these instances, treating the underlying cause can address the problem before it leads to further complications.
What Is Bruxism: Risk Factors For Teeth Grinding
Your chances of developing teeth-grinding bruxism may be increased by factors such as
If you have family members who grind their teeth, you are more likely to experience it.
Your stress levels
Being under consistent stress, or feeling anxious or frustrated can lead to grinding in your sleep.
Caffeine and nicotine use
Smokers and people who drink caffeine, especially later in the day, may be more likely to grind their teeth.
Some medications may cause you to grind your teeth. If grinding is a problem, discuss your medication schedule with your doctor. Some changes could make a difference.
Certain medical and mental health disorders may contribute to teeth grinding. It is associated with Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, dementia, ADHD, sleep apnoea, and night terrors.
How Do I Know If I Have Teeth Grinding Bruxism? Signs And Symptoms
Sometimes a bed partner will notice your teeth grinding. If you grind your teeth regularly at night, you are also likely to notice some of these signs and symptoms.
- Regular headaches, especially in the morning or after waking, usually in your temples
- Sore or tired jaw muscles
- Restricted mobility in your jaw that makes it difficult or painful to open or close
- Pain in your face, neck or jaw
- Pain in or around your ears
- Disruptions to your sleep or waking up not feeling fully restored
- Dental problems such as worn tooth enamel, flattened or fractured teeth
- Tooth sensitivity.
What Is Bruxism: Why Treatment Is Important
Not treating teeth grinding can lead to harmful side effects, especially for your dental health. Consistent grinding can cause fractures to your teeth, as well as the loosening of your teeth. If you have restorations, it can also cause damage to them. Regular teeth grinding can cause damage to your jaw, worsening or contributing to temporomandibular joint pain.
Grinding your teeth on a regular basis can cause chronic pain in your face, neck, ears and jaw. It may also result in chronic tension-type headaches that compromise your quality of life.
Understanding why you grind your teeth is the first step toward a solution. Sometimes making lifestyle changes can bring you relief. Treating bruxism not only helps you to avoid complications but also helps you to get more rest when you sleep. Visiting a sleep clinic gives you specialist insight into the causes of your teeth-grinding bruxism and the most effective long-term treatment options.
Treat your sleep disorder
If a sleep disorder is causing you to grind at night, treating it is essential. Improving your sleep hygiene is a step in a positive direction.
Wear a mouthguard
A night guard is a protective barrier that you insert between your jaws, to stop them from grinding together while you sleep.
A mandibular advancement splint (MAS) is also an effective way to manage grinding, especially if you suffer from snoring as a result of obstructive sleep apnoea. The MAS device keeps your jaws apart and your mouth slightly open to stop your airways from collapsing.
Manage your stress and anxiety
Speak to your medical practitioner about stress management options. Some ideas include psychotherapy, starting a regular exercise program, and considering muscle relaxants to help you unwind for bedtime.
Make positive lifestyle changes
Notice if you clench your jaw during the day and make a conscious effort to release the tension. Don’t allow yourself to chew on the end of a pencil or on your nails during the daytime. Stop chewing gum to train your jaw muscles out of clenching on a regular basis.
Eliminate or reduce foods and drinks containing caffeine, especially after midday
Eliminate or reduce your alcohol intake, as alcohol has been found to encourage bruxism.
Make a conscious effort to relax and unwind at the end of the day. Play soothing music, take a cool shower or bath, or hold a warm cloth on your jaw muscles to help yourself relax.
Reconsider your medication
If you are taking chronic medication, you should have it reviewed in case it is contributing to your grinding.
For help understanding ‘what is bruxism’ or for an investigation into what could be causing you to grind your teeth at night, it’s best to speak to a professional. Please contact our sleep clinic for advice:
Dental Health and Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
Bruxism (teeth grinding)