Have you or someone you know ever had trouble clenching or grinding your teeth? It’s an extremely common condition that looks as if the person is chewing vigorously without any food in their mouth. Grinding one’s teeth, also known as bruxism, affects millions of people across the globe every year.
Why is that?
There are several reasons why people start grinding their teeth, including stress, diet, sleep disorders, depression and anxiety. The physical or medical triggers that cause bruxism have yet to be uncovered, but we have been able to identify certain patterns associated with the condition.
Here are 5 facts about teeth grinding:
- It’s Extremely Common
More than 30 million people grind their teeth on a regular basis. While sporadic bouts of teeth grinding don’t normally cause problems, repetitive bruxism can lead to serious issues. Many times, people subconsciously clench their jaws while working or going through routinely stressful situations throughout the day. A majority of people grind their teeth in their sleep, and most aren’t aware they’re grinding at all until they begin feeling stiffness or soreness in their jaw muscles and joints.
- There Are Many Symptoms
Oftentimes, a person’s family members are the first to notice when someone with bruxism is continuously grinding their teeth, and sometimes they hear clenching noises as a result. You can tell if you’re grinding if your jaw feels sore and you have headaches when you wake up. Sometimes, due to the pressure of the jaws being forced together, you can grind so hard that you can actually crack or chip a tooth.
Other symptoms include:
- Loose teeth
- Sore teeth
- Facial discomfort
3. Stress Plays A Major Role
When you’re anxious or stressed in your daily life, your body, including your mouth, naturally contracts and tenses up. It’s a reflex of our bodies to subconsciously try and channel or shift that pressure elsewhere. Teeth grinding becomes the vessel by which people redirect their frustration, anger or fear.
If you find yourself grinding your teeth as a response to stress at school, at home, at work, or out in public, now is the time to find some coping mechanisms to deal with the pressures that are negatively affecting you. Deep breathing, meditation, and exercise often help bruxism sufferers relax and unclench their teeth.
- Alcohol, Cigarettes & Caffeine Double Your Chances
Alcohol consumption and smoking cigarettes are both common triggers for bruxism. In fact, drinkers and smokers are twice as likely to grind their teeth when compared to those who are smoke-free and alcohol-free. Drinking too much caffeine also increases your risk of teeth grinding. Certain kinds of antidepressant and amphetamine medications can lead to bruxism, so ask your doctor about adjusting your medications if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
- Changing Your Nightly Routine Can Help
In order to reduce pressure on your jaw (and therefore lessen your likeliness to grind your teeth), you might want to consider wearing a hard appliance at night or scheduling a botox injection. Give us a call or contact us here to help rid your nights of endless grinding.
It’s also critical to change up your bedtime rituals in order to reduce stress. Create a calm environment for yourself and transform your bedroom into a sanctuary of solitude. Try placing your phone, laptops, and other devices away from your bed or in another room. Also, if you suffer from insomnia or have trouble sleeping, you may want to go to bed earlier to increase your odds of getting more sleep and reducing stress.
Tip: Snoring and sleep apnea are often linked to sleeping on your back. Try sleeping on your stomach or side to reduce interrupted breathing (a common cause of bruxism).
If you would like to get more information about teeth grinding, how to improve your oral health or how Dental Arts can help you get the results you want for your mouth, please contact us.
Dental Arts is a full-service general dentistry and orthodontic practice for the entire family. For more than three decades, we have been providing the highest quality dental and orthodontic care available to the residents of New Orleans. Explore the Dental Arts difference today.