9th April 2023

Is there a link between bruxism and PTSD?

Last Modified: May 4, 2023

What is PTSD and what are its symptoms?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition. It can develop in people who have experienced or seen a traumatic event such as physical or sexual assault, war, accidents natural disasters, etc.

People can experience a wide range of PTSD symptoms. These symptoms can also occur at varying times after the traumatic incident. Some common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • paranoia - feeling easily startled or on edge
  • Intrusive thoughts or memories of the traumatic event
  • Avoiding situations or people that remind the person of the trauma
  • Feeling emotionally numb or disconnected from others
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Flashbacks or nightmares of the traumatic event
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness
  • Substance abuse or other self-destructive behaviours as a coping method
  • Difficulty when concentrating or sleeping
Woman stressed

The psychological roots that allow PTSD to cause Bruxism

Research suggests bruxism can be a physical manifestation of the psychological distress caused by PTSD. PTSD can create high levels of stress and anxiety, which can cause tension in the muscles of the jaw and face. This tension is usually a cause of bruxism and can become a coping mechanism for managing emotional distress.

Also, people with PTSD may get disrupted sleep patterns, which can further aggravate bruxism. Sleep is essential for the body to recover and repair itself so a lack of quality sleep leads to physical and emotional stress. Physical and emotional stress leads to bruxism and other sleep-related disorders.

Furthermore, people with PTSD may struggle with hypervigilance. Hypervigilance is a state of hyper-awareness and alertness, which may result in the muscles in the jaw tensing up, leading to bruxism.

Finally, PTSD can cause a range of psychological and emotional symptoms, these include anxiety, depression, and anger, which can contribute to bruxism. For example, someone with PTSD may grind their teeth at night as a way of coping with anxiety or stress.

PTSD patients who suffer from bruxism can have deep psychological issues, so it's important to address and treat PTSD. For Bruxism PTSD patients treating PTSD can help to squash their bruxism symptoms.

This article was read and reviewed by the face of DR Aesthetica himself - DR Baldeep Farmah.

How does PTSD impact sleep quality?

PTSD can affect sleep quality a lot! People with PTSD often experience sleep disturbances, which can contribute to a range of physical and mental health issues. Here are some ways PTSD can affect sleep:

  • Nightmares and flashbacks - often occur of the traumatic event, which can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. These disturbing memories can also lead to anxiety and fear, leading to poor sleep quality.
  • Hypervigilance - People with PTSD may be hypervigilant, scanning their environment for potential threats. This state of high alertness can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep.
  • Insomnia - characterised by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. People with PTSD may also wake up a lot during the night or wake up early in the morning, feeling unable to fall back asleep.
  • Night sweats - excessive sweating whilst trying to sleep which can disrupt sleep and cause discomfort.
  • Sleep apnea - a condition in which breathing stops and starts during sleep. PTSD can increase the risk of sleep apnea, as research has shown, which can increase sleep disturbances and impact health.
  • Sleep-related movement disorders - such as bruxism, restless leg syndrome, and periodic limb movement disorder. These can further impact sleep quality and contribute to fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

Strategies for improving sleep quality in individuals with PTSD and bruxism

The best method for improving sleep quality for individuals with PTSD and bruxism is simply to treat your PTSD and bruxism. Sounds simple doesn't it? But it’s true! PTSD is a complex disorder so get a professional therapist to help you. But in terms of treating your bruxism, we're here to help you!

You can view a list of potential treatments for bruxism here. 

However do you Want a treatment that:

  • that lasts approximately 6 months?
  • Only requires 24 hours of downtime
  • Is so painless that it requires no anaesthetic
  • displays results by 4 weeks

Then a Botox treatment may be perfect for you! View more information on a Botox treatment here:

Post Reviewed by: Dr Baldeep Farmah
Medically Reviewed on: 9th April 2023
Dr Baldeep Farmah is the Medical Director and lead Doctor of Dr Aesthetica, a Medical Aesthetic Clinic.

"We want to empower everyone who walks through our clinic doors, to be able to look in the mirror and see a happier, brighter version of themselves."

For everyone that walks through our clinic doors, you may think you are alone, but you are not. Our patients all have a different story to tell but all come from a similar place.
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