A considerable amount of people clench, grind, and gnash their teeth, especially when they’re asleep. This is called teeth grinding or bruxism, a condition that’s often involuntary and causes a myriad of dental problems. If you or a loved one has this issue and would like to learn more about it, we have shared a simple yet comprehensive guide about bruxism and ways to treat it. Keep reading to learn more.
While the true cause of bruxism remains unclear to modern medical science, it can happen because of several factors.
Stress and Anxiety
Having high amounts of anxiety and stress can lead to people unconsciously grinding their teeth. This can be exacerbated by anger, frustration, and other extreme feelings. As such, teeth grinding caused by stress and anxiety usually only happens when someone is awake. It becomes a habit to release some of the stress and reduce tension inside the body.
Bruxism during sleep is less understood. It’s considered a sleep-related movement disorder caused by involuntary chewing movements. In some cases, the grinding movement can reach up to 250 PSI, which is far above a person’s average bite force. This results in more rapid deterioration of teeth' enamel integrity.
Certain Medications and Controlled Substances
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been known to cause bruxism. In addition, drugs like cocaine can worsen symptoms of teeth grinding by affecting the nerves of the mouth and jaw.
Symptoms and Effects of Teeth Grinding
The friction and force from constant teeth grinding can cause various symptoms and issues. Here are the most common ones:
Dental attrition refers to the loss of teeth enamel or tissue because of tooth-to-tooth contact. Rows of teeth will appear worn out and flat because of the constant friction. Not only is this aesthetically unappealing, but dental attrition can escalate into bigger problems like bite misalignment and gum issues.
Increased Teeth Sensitivity
As the enamel wears away, the sensitive nerves inside each tooth become exposed. This makes it difficult for someone to drink hot and cold drinks. Mechanical movements like brushing and flossing will also cause pain in some cases.
Worn tooth enamel is more susceptible to dental caries or cavities. It’s much easier for sugars and bacteria to enter a tooth and cause decay. With the increased prevalence of cavities, you could have more toothaches, tooth decay, and bad breath.
Jaw Pain and Headaches
The intense force of teeth grinding puts pressure on various parts of the mouth, not just your teeth. So when you’re awake, you might feel jaw pain, headaches, and even soreness in the neck area.
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In general, teeth grinding is a mild issue. However, it can become a bigger problem when a person does it frequently and regularly, resulting in dental attrition, jaw pain, cavities, and many other issues. Getting the right help and preventing it from happening in the future are the most effective ways to treat this disorder.