5 Leading Reasons for Bruxism: The Invisible Enemy You Need to Beat

teeth grinding
  • Bruxism is an involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth most commonly caused by stress and anxiety.
  • It affects up to 50% of adults worldwide and can lead to various physical, emotional, and psychological harm.
  • Symptoms include headaches, jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, and tooth loss if left untreated.
  • Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and talking to someone are essential in managing bruxism.
  • Regular dental visits and using a custom-made mouthguard while sleeping also help reduce the grinding or clenching of teeth.

Teeth grinding and clenching, medically known as bruxism, may sound like a trivial condition, but it can cause lots of physical, emotional, and psychological harm in the long run. Bruxism is so stealthy that most people don’t know they have it until they start experiencing symptoms such as headaches, jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, and even tooth loss. Unfortunately, bruxism affects up to 50% of adults worldwide, becoming more prevalent due to stress, anxiety, and lifestyle changes. Here’s what you need to know about this disorder, how it happens, and how to manage it over time.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism refers to the involuntary grinding, clenching, or gnashing of teeth. It is a common condition that often occurs during sleep but can also happen while awake. People with bruxism may grind their teeth together or clench their jaws tightly, often unaware of it. This condition can result in various dental and health problems.

Bruxism can be categorized into two types: sleep bruxism and awake bruxism. Sleep bruxism occurs during sleep and is often associated with other sleep disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea. On the other hand, awake bruxism happens during wakefulness and is often linked to stress, anxiety, or tension.

The exact causes of bruxism are not fully understood, but several factors may contribute to its development. Here are some common reasons for the disorder:

Stress and Anxiety

Stressed woman at work

Stress is the leading cause of bruxism, as it triggers the body to release cortisol, a hormone that leads to muscle tension, inflammation, and a heightened fight-or-flight response. When you’re stressed or anxious, you’re more likely to clench and grind your teeth, especially at night when you’re unaware of your actions. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or getting a massage to combat stress-related bruxism. Also, express your emotions, practice time management, and seek professional help if stress overwhelms you.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep apnea, snoring, and other sleep disorders can contribute to bruxism, as they impede your breathing and interrupt your sleep cycle. When you don’t get enough oxygen and rest, your body tries to compensate by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, leading to bruxism and other health issues. If you suspect a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist who can assess your condition and recommend the best treatment.

Medications and Substances

Some medications and substances can induce bruxism or worsen its symptoms, such as amphetamines, antidepressants, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. These substances affect your brain chemicals, leading to heightened wakefulness, mood changes, or addiction, which can trigger bruxism as a side effect. If you’re taking any of these substances, consult your doctor about the risks and the alternatives.

Bite Misalignment

Bite misalignment, or malocclusion, can cause uneven pressure on your teeth, making them more prone to grinding and clenching. When your teeth don’t align properly, you tend to grind or clench in response, leading to pain, erosion of tooth enamel, and even tooth fractures. If you suspect malocclusion, talk to your dentist, who can diagnose and treat the issue with various methods, such as orthodontic braces, retainers, or dental crowns.

Physical Trauma

Physical trauma, such as a blow to the jaw, can also lead to bruxism, as it damages the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the surrounding muscles. When the TMJ is inflamed or damaged, it leads to pain, stiffness, clicking, popping, and grinding of the teeth, which can become chronic if left untreated. If you’ve experienced head or jaw trauma, seek medical attention as soon as possible, as the earlier you address the issue, the better your chances of full recovery.

How to Manage Bruxism

There are various ways to manage bruxism. Here are three practical ways to manage it:

Dental Check-up Annually

Dental Check-up teenager

Bruxism is primarily an oral problem. This is why you must visit your local dentist’s office for a yearly check-up. During the exam, your dentist will check for signs of bruxism, such as wear or fractures on your teeth and jaw pain. If any of these issues are present, they can recommend treatments to help you manage the condition.

Mouthguard Treatment

If you suffer from sleep bruxism, using a custom-made mouthguard may help reduce grinding and clenching while asleep. This device fits snugly over your upper or lower teeth and prevents them from coming into contact with each other. It also relieves stress on your jaw joints, allowing you to sleep more soundly.

Stress Management Techniques

Managing stress is crucial in treating bruxism since it’s related to high cortisol levels. This is why practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises is important. You can also try journaling and talking to someone you trust if the stress worsens.

Bruxism may not be the most severe condition, but it’s still important to recognize its symptoms and take steps to manage it as soon as possible. If left untreated, bruxism can cause serious dental issues such as tooth loss or fracture and even increase your risk of other health problems. See your dentist regularly, wear a mouthguard while sleeping, and practice stress management techniques for better oral health and overall well-being.

Like & Share
ActiveSpectrumnew white

Health has never been easier than before

Scroll to Top