Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a condition in which a patient will grind or clench their teeth for a variety of reasons. Stress, anxiety, certain lifestyle habits or medications, and sleep disorders are all contributing factors that may cause teeth grinding. Due to its harmful physical effects, treating the cause of teeth grinding is important to keep your teeth healthy and free from cracking, breaking, or decay.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
The exact causes of bruxism are unknown, but there are a few potential influences that increase your risks. People with high levels of stress or anxiety may grind or clench their teeth as a coping mechanism. Certain medications, such as SSRIs—an anti-anxiety drug, have teeth grinding listed as a potential side effect.
A variety of lifestyle habits or behaviors can lead to teeth grinding. Smoking or consuming high levels of caffeine or alcohol are associated with bruxism. People with driven personalities or those with anger or stress management issues are more likely to grind their teeth. If left untreated, grinding your teeth can wear down the enamel on your teeth, which can increase the likelihood of developing cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, or even tooth loss.
Treat Potential Causes of Bruxism
The most efficient way to treat bruxism is to wear a night-time mouthguard. A mouthguard is a device that is made of soft plastic that is fitted to your mouth. It provides a barrier between your upper and lower teeth to protect them from the stress of grinding your teeth.
Another way to combat teeth grinding is to address the causes of your stress and anxiety. Try meditation or another soothing activity, such as yoga. Deep breathing exercises have also been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Be mindful of how much you clench your jaw and try to relax the muscles by letting your jaw drop and hang. This not only helps relax the muscles, but it will help you be more conscious of your behavior.
Other ways to combat stress may be to begin an exercise regimen or get regular massages. Stress tends to manifest itself as tension that can build in your back, shoulders, neck, and jaw. Exercise is an excellent way to increase your endorphins and get your muscles warm and moving.
Massages are great to relax your muscles and remove any tension. At the very least, you could massage your facial muscles to help them relax.
If you participate in activities or behaviors that increase your likelihood of grinding your teeth, you should consider stopping. If you smoke or consume alcohol or high quantities of caffeine, try to reduce the amount of each substance you consume or find an alternate habit.
Side Effects of Bruxism
Grinding and clenching your teeth can have some pretty harmful physical effects. Grinding your teeth wears down the enamel, which leaves them vulnerable to developing cavities. The pressure from clenching your jaw can actually chip or break your teeth. Damaged teeth are much more susceptible to tooth decay. Over time, your teeth will become misshapen, so you may need dental treatments such as veneers or dental crowns.