Teeth Grinding: Causes and Preventative Care Steps You Can Take
Whether you're stressed or just anxious, teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, comes in many shapes and forms. And while the occasional grinding doesn't hurt and is quite common, constant grinding can wear down your health in more ways than one.
The worst part of the condition is that it can be difficult to know whether or not you're affected. Why? Because most grinding occurs during rest, meaning that while there are symptoms of a dental issue, it is not immediately apparent what the cause is.
By understanding the causes of and preventative care for bruxism, you can find relief from the condition and ensure that both your teeth and your general health are as vibrant as possible.
What is Bruxism?
Put simply, bruxism is a condition characterized by the clenching or grinding of teeth. Most often, the condition affects individuals at night in a condition specified as sleep bruxism, however it can also occur during the day.
For many, the condition goes unnoticed but when symptoms begin to surface, the issue becomes more obvious. Symptoms may include:
Teeth grinding or clenching, which is often loud enough to wake others
Flattened, fractured, chipped or loose teeth
Increased sensitivity of the teeth
Soreness or tightness in the jaw or face
A dull headache or earache
Ringing in the ears known as tinnitus
Why Does Bruxism Occur?
Bruxism is a quite mysterious. In fact, many health professionals find it incredibly difficult to identify a specific cause for the condition.
However, several psychological and physical causes have come to the forefront:
Emotions – Anxiety, stress, anger, or frustration, can trigger bruxism.
Coping or Focus Strategy – Some clench or grind teeth to alleviate pressure or help them focus. While this often occurs during the daytime, individuals may still be unaware that they're doing it.
Oral Structure – Individuals with poor teeth alignment, also known as malocclusion, may develop bruxism.
Sleep Conditions – Individuals with sleep apnea may also experience bruxism as part of their condition.
Other Medical Complications – Grinding can also be caused by specific psychiatric medications, complications from other medical disorders, and even acid reflux.
There Are Three Major Treatment Options You Can Turn to for Relief
If you suffer from bruxism, there's no need to fret. Some individuals actually grow out of the disorder, whereas others suffer such minimal disruption that no treatment is required.
But if you must seek treatment, rest assured that you have options:
Dental Approaches – A visit to your dentist can give you access to splints and mouth guards to prevent damage to your teeth. Of course, you can also consult your dentist to determine if misalignment is causing your problems and, if it is, you can determine an appropriate treatment solution.
Therapies – For bruxism due to psychological factors, stress management, behavior therapy, and/or biofeedback may help address the underlying cause and eliminate teeth grinding in the process.
Medications – Medications aren't a common treatment for bruxism but in some extreme cases, doctors will prescribe muscle relaxants or Botox injections to relax the muscles and prevent grinding.
As a disorder that manifests most commonly during sleep, it can be incredibly difficult to recognize what is causing your discomfort or dental complications.
By better understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments of bruxism, you can ensure that you find the relief you need, protect your smile from damage, and rest easy knowing that grinding isn't wearing down your health.