Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs regularly the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.
What Are the Symptoms of Grinding?
Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:
• Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner
• Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
• Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
• Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
• Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely
• Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness
• Pain that feels like an earache, though it’s not a problem with your ear
• Dull headache starting in the temples
• Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
• Sleep disruption
What causes teeth grinding?
The cause of teeth grinding is not always clear, but it’s usually linked to other factors, such as stress, anxiety or sleep problems.
Stress and anxiety
Teeth grinding is most often caused by stress or anxiety and many people are not aware they do it. It often happens during sleep.
Teeth grinding can sometimes be a side effect of taking certain types of medicine.
In particular, teeth grinding is sometimes linked to a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
Examples of SSRIs include paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline.
If you snore or have a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), you’re more likely to grind your teeth while you sleep. OSA interrupts your breathing while you sleep.
You’re also more likely to grind your teeth if you:
talk or mumble while asleep
behave violently while asleep, such as kicking out or punching
have sleep paralysis, a temporary inability to move or speak while waking up or falling asleep
experience hallucinations, where you see or hear things that are not real, while semi-conscious
Other factors that can make you more likely to grind your teeth or make it worse include:
using recreational drugs, such as ecstasy and cocaine
having lots of caffeinated drinks, such as tea or coffee (6 or more cups a day)
What Are the Risk Factors?
These factors increase your risk of bruxism:
• Stress. Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth grinding. So can anger and frustration.
• Age. Bruxism is common in young children, but it usually goes away by adulthood.
• Personality type. Having a personality type that’s aggressive, competitive or hyperactive can increase your risk of bruxism.
• Medications and other substances. Bruxism may be an uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as certain antidepressants. Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or using recreational drugs may increase the risk of bruxism.
• Family members with bruxism. Sleep bruxism tends to occur in families. If you have bruxism, other members of your family also may have bruxism or a history of it.
• Other disorders. Bruxism can be associated with some mental health and medical disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, night terrors, sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth?
Your dentist in Lancaster Texas can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.
If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist in Lancaster Texas about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.
If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit.
Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:
• Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
• Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
• Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
• Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
• Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
Teeth grinding in children
Teeth grinding can also affect children. It tends to happen after their baby teeth or adult teeth first appear, but usually stops after the adult teeth are fully formed.
See a GP if you’re concerned about your child’s teeth grinding, particularly if it’s affecting their sleep.
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