Bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding, is a health condition in which a person consciously or unconsciously grinds their teeth together. Bruxism typically happens during sleep, and people who grind their teeth are largely unaware that they have this damaging habit. But what exactly causes bruxism? Here are the top causes of teeth grinding and how you might be able to treat them.
Abnormal Bite or Misaligned Teeth
The position of your jaw and teeth can influence teeth grinding . If you have an abnormal bite (also called a malocclusion) or crooked teeth, you’re at greater risk to grind your teeth than someone who has proper jaw and teeth alignment.
Fortunately, most cases of malocclusion can be treated with oral appliances such as orthodontic treatment. People who have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder may also be at increased risk to grind their teeth, and should seek treatment for this condition to potentially improve their bruxism .
Stress and Anxiety
Many cases of teeth grinding are suspected to be caused by stress . People who experience chronic stress or suffer from an anxiety disorder may be more likely to grind their teeth either while asleep or awake.
Taking steps to reduce your stress and anxiety may help improve your bruxism; however, while you seek treatment, getting a mouthguard from your dentist is essential to protect your teeth from further damage.
The link between bruxism and sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been well documented. People who have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea are more likely to experience bruxism.
Fortunately, research suggests that treating sleep apnea may help eliminate bruxism entirely . If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, your dentist can refer you to a sleep specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Other research has linked teeth grinding to tobacco use, smoking, and alcohol and drug abuse . The reason for this isn’t exactly clear, but the association could mean people who use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are more likely to grind their teeth.
Caffeine consumption has also been linked to bruxism, suggesting that people who suffer from teeth grinding may want to reduce or eliminate their caffeine consumption in the hours before bed to potentially help the disorder.
Don’t Ignore Bruxism!
Bruxism can wear down teeth over time, leading to flattened or shortened teeth, tooth sensitivity, and even teeth fractures. An exam with your dentist can tell if you grind your teeth and help uncover the cause to stop your bruxism and protect your teeth!