Teeth grinding, which is medically known as bruxism, may not seem like the most serious problem, but this condition can do real damage to your teeth, lead to poor sleep, and cause facial pain.
Our highly qualified dental team here at Airport Dental Care, under the direction of Dr. Brian LaBombard, has extensive experience helping our patients who grind their teeth. While we offer an effective treatment (more on that later), we feel it’s important to understand what may be behind your bruxism.
With that in mind, here are some of the more common reasons people grind their teeth and what we can do to help.
Let’s start with the most common reason behind teeth grinding: stress and anxiety. And there’s plenty of that these days. This type of bruxism can occur both during the day and while you’re asleep. For example, teeth clenching when you’re stressed, angry, frustrated, or anxious often occurs throughout the day.
If this nervous tension carries over into your sleep, you may find yourself grinding your teeth at night, though you may not be aware of it (your bedmate certainly will be).
Bruxism tends to be more common in children and adolescents. Though exact figures are hard to pin down, the Sleep Foundation reports that between 6% and 50% of children grind their teeth, as do 15% of adolescents.
These figures drop with age, with only 3-8% of adults reporting problems with bruxism.
Medications and lifestyle habits
Certain medications have been linked to teeth clenching, such as antidepressants. Alcohol consumption, caffeine, and tobacco use have also been connected to an increased risk of bruxism.
Teeth clenching tends to run in families. As many as half of those who clench their teeth have a close family member who does the same.
Research suggests that there’s a link between bruxism and obstructive sleep apnea, though the exact cause-and-effect remains unclear.
Misalignments in your teeth and jaws
Some movement in your mouth at night is normal. We call it rhythmic masticatory muscle activities. But if your teeth and/or jaw are misaligned, it may lead to more of these chewing motions.
While it’s important to understand the potential underlying cause of your bruxism, there’s much we can do to safeguard your oral health in the meantime. For example, we offer night guards that protect your teeth from the extreme pressure that bruxism can place on them — up to 250 pounds of pressure.
With a night guard, we’re able to protect your teeth from premature wear while also keeping the joints on either side of your jaw — your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) — stable.
This incredibly simple solution can save you from some fairly serious problems, like headaches, tooth wear, and TMJ disorders.
If you have more questions about teeth grinding or you’d like to schedule an appointment to get fitted for a night guard, contact our office in Austin, Texas.