Did You Know?

The Dilemma of Teeth-Grinding

Causes and Predisposing Factors

When you unconsciously grind, gnash or clench your teeth, while awake or asleep, it is called bruxism. If you experience it during sleep, it is considered a sleep-related disorder and it’s possible you might have other sleep disorders, like sleep apnea.

Some people may have mild bruxism that may not require treatment. Some are not even conscious of it. However, severe forms have to be seen and treated by your dentist or they can lead to complications in your teeth and jaw.

Recognise bruxism in its many forms so you’ll know if you should consult right away. Firstly, the condition might be so loud and disturbing that it wakes up your sleep partner. When you wake up in the morning, you might feel pain or soreness in your face, neck or jaw. Your jaw muscles might feel tired or tight, the jaw may not open or close completely. It might feel like an earache ora headache around your temples.

You notice your teeth are somewhat flattened, the top enamel looks eroded, exposing the deeper layer dentin. You may be feeling tooth sensitivity already with hot or cold drinks. In some cases, bruxism can cause your own sleep disturbance. Why does this happen?

Most doctors cannot pinpoint the exact cause – it can be a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors. Emotions can play a part in ‘awake bruxism’, such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension. It may be your habit when you concentrate heavily, or it may be a coping mechanism you’ve adopted. ‘Sleep bruxism’ may be a sleep-related chewing activity associated with arousals during sleep.

You might have predisposing factors that cause teeth grinding. It can be genetic, with family members suffering the same condition. It may be your aggressive, hyperactive personality style, your stress and frustration level, and certain lifestyle habits, like excessive smoking and alcohol consumption.

Certain medications like antidepressants, certain mental conditions like dementia, epilepsy, or Parkinson’s, and other conditions like sleep apnea or reflux disease can predispose you to bruxism.

Medical and dental attention should collaborate to give treatment. Dental complications can be quite serious – damage to teeth, crowns, restorations; also severe facial and jaw pain, in particular, temporomandibular jaw damage. Tension headaches can be debilitating.

Teeth Grinding Help by Lynnwood Dentistry

Seek your Lynnwood dentist if you experience these signs and symptoms of bruxism. Children’s grinding may be transient, though you need guidance. For adults, Dr. Song can offer solutions for this dilemma.