Bruxism, more commonly known as teeth grinding, is more than just an annoyance to your bedfellow. Grinding your teeth night after night can lead to worn teeth, damaged enamel, headaches, and more. Experts have differing opinions about what causes bruxism. Keep reading to learn more about the potential causes, and talk to your dentist for treatment.
What Causes Bruxism?
Anxiety and Stress
Have you ever woken up with a tight jaw after a stressful dream? It can be easy to disregard your emotions when it comes to their impact on health issues. However, research shows that your emotional health can affect your physical health. In one study, researchers examined the prevalence of bruxism in individuals with low and high levels of anxiety and depression. The researchers discovered that the individuals with higher levels of anxiety and depression showed significantly more instances of bruxism. Several other studies support these findings (source).
It can be easier said than done, but if you are experiencing a stressful season of life, don’t forget to take time for self-care. Make it a point to relax right before you go to sleep, which is when bruxism most often occurs. Exercise, meditation, spending time in nature, a warm bath, a good book, or a cup of tea may help you wind down.
This might not be the best news for those wanting to avoid braces, but bruxism can be a symptom of a misaligned bite. Your bite could be misaligned for several different reasons, including crowding, damage, or shifting over time. If you wish to avoid braces or you aren’t able to afford them, a night guard can often prevent you from grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep. Night guards are available at most pharmacies.
Stimulants and Depressants
Bruxism can be a physical manifestation of what you consume internally. Research shows that there is a link between bruxism and consuming stimulants and depressants. Although research does not prove that using these substances causes bruxism, it does show that these habits can increase your risk of bruxism.
Before you say goodbye to coffee entirely, try minimizing your consumption to just one cup a day. For help with addictions to alcohol and tobacco, consult your doctor for resources. Certain stimulant medications, such as antidepressants, can also increase your risk of bruxism. Never stop taking a prescription medication before talking with your doctor.
Diseases and Disorders
Bruxism can be a sign of a greater health issue. Those who suffer from sleep apnea or snoring have a higher likelihood of grinding or clenching their teeth at night (source). Certain movement disorders such as Huntington’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease can also cause you to grind and clench your teeth. If you are showing other signs of a movement disorder such as tremors or postural instability, talk with your doctor.
Signs of Bruxism
Since most people only struggle with teeth grinding and clenching at night, it is entirely possible that you grind your teeth and don’t even realize it. Here are some signs that you might have bruxism:
- Your jaw is painful and stiff.
- Your gums are sore.
- You have sensitive, loose, or broken teeth.
- You have a clicking or popping noise coming from your jaw when you open your mouth. This could be temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.
- You’re experiencing dull headaches that seem to originate from your temples.
Are you dealing with bruxism? Now that you know what causes bruxism, call your dentist for help. If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist in Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. Schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or request an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!