If you commonly grind your teeth, either consciously or subconsciously, you may have a condition called bruxism. Those with bruxism may grind or clench their teeth to the point of discomfort, pain, or even damage.
Causes and Risk Factors of Bruxism
While the causes of Bruxism are not definitively known, there are a number of factors that have been linked to teeth grinding.
Emotions like anxiety, aggression, anger, and pain are common in those who grind their teeth. Additionally, chemical imbalances in the brain have also been linked to bruxism, especially for patients using certain anti-depressants.
Additional risk factors for bruxism include:
- Age: Bruxism is more prevalent in children who typically grow out of it by adulthood.
- Emotions: Individuals who experience higher levels of nervous tension (anger, pain) or competitive tendencies (anxiety, aggression, etc.) may have an increased risk.
- Drugs and Medications: Psychiatric medications like antidepressants may lead to bruxism, though this is not typical. Tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and other recreational drug use may also play a role.
- Genetics: Bruxism has been observed to occur in families.
- Other Medical Conditions: Other sleep, mental health, and medical disorders have been observed in those with bruxism (sleep apnea, ADHD, epilepsy, etc.)
Signs and Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
Signs of bruxism include:
- Teeth grinding
- Teeth clenching
- Worn tooth enamel and increased sensitivity
- Neck, face, or jaw pain. This can include lockjaw.
- Damage from biting on the cheeks
- Sleep disruption, for you or a partner
- Headaches and earache-related pain
If you notice any signs or symptoms of teeth grinding in yourself or your children, be sure to mention it; your dentist can readily diagnose teeth grinding and work with you to solve the problem.
Consequences of Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding is not uncommon and it is typical for people to grow out of it or only experience it periodically. Extreme bruxism, however, can lead to serious dental complications. These include:
- Tooth damage
- Tooth decay
- Severe face and jaw pain
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)
How Can I Stop Grinding My Teeth?
If you notice you’ve been grinding your teeth, especially if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, there are steps you can take to reduce teeth grinding and its effects.
- Find ways to relax and improve mental health (breathing exercises, meditation, exercise, etc.)
- Improve your sleep schedule
- Apply ice to reduce jaw pain and swelling
- Visit your dentist regularly
Treatments for Teeth Grinding
The dentists at Lakeview Dental Care are well-equipped to help you stop grinding your teeth, no matter the cause. The most common treatments for teeth grinding include custom nightguards to prevent damage while sleeping and orthodontic treatment if necessary.
Consult Your Dentist About Teeth Grinding
If you are concerned about the effects of teeth grinding, our talented team of dentists can work with you to find the best solutions.
We are proud to operate several locations throughout New Jersey, book an appointment today!