Bruxism, or as it’s more commonly known: teeth grinding, is a condition in which you unconsciously gnash, clench or grind your chompers. Believe it or not, this can happen in both an awake and an asleep state. Do note that if you’re experiencing bruxism in your sleep, then you may also experience other sleep-related disorders like heavy snoring or sleep apnea. While we don’t know for certain why some people experience bruxism, it can likely be attributed to a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors.
During the awake state, emotions like stress and anxiety are often considered reasons for bruxism. And in 2020, many of us are experiencing these types of intense feelings more than we’re used to, which is very understandable. Does that mean that you’re automatically going to become a teeth grinder? No. But if you find that you’ve developed physical habits that previously did not exist, then the year we’ve collectively experienced may have something to do with triggering these changes.
What can lead to teeth grinding?
Let’s first explore some of the causes that can lead to teeth grinding so that you can assess if you’re potentially more likely to experience issues with bruxism.
- Intense Emotions: As noted above, emotions like stress, anxiety, anger and frustration can cause you to grind your teeth.
- Age & Personality Type: Younger children tend to experience bruxism, though it usually goes away by adulthood. Do note that if bruxism persists in your child, there may be a sleep disorder associated with it. Moreover, traits like aggression, competitiveness, and hyperactivity can all cause tooth grinding to occur.
- Family History: Bruxism more often occurs in families, so it’s not uncommon if several members of your family are experiencing this pattern of behavior.
- Medications & Substance Use: Bruxism can be a side effect of certain psychiatric medications, like antidepressants; it may also be triggered by smoking tobacco, consuming caffeinated beverages and/or alcohol as well as the use of other recreational drugs.
How do I know if I’m a teeth grinder?
Below, we’ll be identifying some signs that can help you to determine if you may, in fact, grind your teeth:
- You make grinding or clenching sounds that are loud enough to wake you or your sleeping partner.
- You’re experiencing discomfort like tiredness or tightness in your jaw muscles, or even a locked jaw that will not completely open or close.
- You have flattened, fractured, chipped or loose teeth.
- You’re feeling increased tooth pain or more sensitivity in your mouth.
- You’re noticing pain or soreness in your jaw, neck or face.
- You’ve been getting a dull headache that starts in your temples; or an earache that is actually developing due to pain in your mouth.
- You believe you have worn tooth enamel or damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek.
- You’re experiencing a consistent disruption in sleep patterns.
How do I know when to contact my dentist?
If you’re experiencing mild bruxism, then you may not require treatment. However, if you’re uncertain about how detrimental it may be or just want to come in to double-check for peace of mind, you are always welcome to schedule a visit with us. If you believe that you’re experiencing a more frequent and severe case of bruxism, then we most definitely want to see you as it has the potential to lead to problems like jaw disorders, headaches and damaged teeth.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re experiencing any of the above-noted symptoms regularly, contact us so that we can navigate your concerns together. Additionally, if your child is a bruxer, he or she may be experiencing a sleep disorder; so if you have a child that has expressed any of these signs to you – or if you’ve noticed them in your child on your own – please do share these details with us, so we can address the issue in a timely manner if need be!