Teeth grinding, medically known as bruxism, can occur either when you’re asleep (sleep bruxism) or when you are going about your daily activities(awake bruxism). In both cases it can have adverse effects on your quality of life, often resulting in strain to your jaw joint, wearing down your teeth, tension-type headaches, sleep disruption for you or your partner among other symptoms. It’s reported that over 10 million adults in the UK suffer from bruxism. This a large figure and more awareness need to brought to this condition. In this article, we will discuss six possible causes of bruxism and what you can do to tackle each one of them.
Anxiety And Stress
Anxiety and stress are the most significant risk factors associated with a greater probability of bruxism. Actually, it has been found that nearly 70% of bruxism occurs as a result of stress or anxiety. Jaw clenching or teeth grinding when facing negative situations are reactions commonly displayed by many people and can carry over to when one is sleeping. Certain personality types, such as overly aggressive or oversensitive individuals can be more prone to bruxism.
What to do: Reducing exposure to stressful situations is ideal, but this is not always practical. So relaxation therapies like breathing techniques and meditation may help you deal with anxiety and stress. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.) can also help tackle stress and anxiety. Botox injections effectively reduce the activity of hypersensitive jaw muscles and as a result, alleviate symptoms of bruxism.
Multiple types of research studies have proved a strong correlation between bruxism and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea( a condition in which the sufferer stops breathing for short periods during sleep). However, science is yet to explain why this association between the two conditions exists. Bruxism has also been linked to other sleep-related disorders such as mumbling, talking, kicking in your sleep, and sleep paralysis(a state, during waking up or falling asleep, in which a person is aware but unable to move or speak).
What to do: Developing strong sleep hygiene can help alleviate symptoms of sleep bruxism. This includes creating a consistent sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine among other daily habits that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Also, talk to your doctor about medical remedies for sleep-related disorders. Some dentists recommend using nighttime mouthguards to help protect your teeth from damage.
Certain lifestyle factors have been linked to the occurrence of bruxism. People who smoke, drink alcohol regularly, or consume six cups or more a day of caffeine are reported to be more likely to suffer from bruxism. Also, chewing gum for many hours per day, biting nails, or biting hard objects has been attributed to bruxism. Such habits allow your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and make you more likely to grind your teeth.
What to do: Limit your consumption of alcohol or caffeinated drinks such as coffee. Also, we encourage our patients to avoid smoking. It will not only help lower the risk of bruxism but can also help alleviate many of the skin-related conditions we treat here at Dr Aesthetica. Botox injections can also help relax hypersensitive jaw muscles that have gotten used to clenching.
There is a growing acceptance that heredity plays a significant role in the development of bruxism. 21-50% of sleep bruxism sufferers have a direct family member with the condition or a history of it. However, no specific genetic markers have been identified yet.
What to do: You can’t do anything about which family you are born into. Also, traditional treatments for bruxism such as mouth splints are proving to be ineffective at treating the pain and masseter hypertrophy associated with chronic grinding and clenching of teeth. But that doesn’t mean you are helpless against heredity-linked bruxism. Our top recommendation is Botox Treatment for Bruxism. Multiple studies have shown that botulinum toxin (Botox) injections can reduce the pain and frequency of teeth grinding. Learn more here.
Teeth grinding can occur as a side effect of some medications, including certain antipsychotics and antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
What to do: Check with your doctor to find out if any medication that you’re on can cause teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Your doctor may also recommend alternative medication if appropriate.
Improper Teeth Alignment
Crowded, misaligned, or crooked teeth have been identified to be one of the causes of bruxism. Also, jaw misalignment medically referred to as malocclusion might cause teeth grinding as your teeth don’t naturally rest where they should.
What to do: Visit your dentist who can recommend the appropriate treatment for your exact condition. Dental procedures such as reductive or additive coronoplasty can reshape or level the biting surface of your teeth. Other treatment options include braces or teeth removal to ease overcrowding.
It’s important to note that currently there’s no specified cure for bruxism. However, identifying the cause of bruxism and appropriate treatment options will help manage the condition effectively and provide relief from many associated symptoms.