Have you ever experienced waking up with a sore jaw and cheekbones? Do you sometimes grind your teeth back and forth even without realizing it? If so, you might be dealing with a condition called “Bruxism”.
Bruxism doesn’t cause any adverse symptoms or pain right away, but it can lead to dental problems if it isn’t managed properly. The more you grind your teeth every day, the higher your chances are of developing tooth sensitivity and damaging tooth structure. Not only that, but excessive tooth grinding can also lead to painful facial muscles and problems with the joints on your jawbone.
What Causes Bruxism?
Although we can’t determine a singular cause behind bruxism yet, many health professionals agree that people often develop this habit due to a multitude of reasons. Some people grind their teeth on purpose when they feel distressed or fatigued, while others often do it while they’re asleep. Once you understand what could be contributing to your bruxism, you can break the habit right away through lifestyle changes or medical intervention.
Many of us often develop certain habits to help cope with stress. Some people pace back and forth during a stressful situation, while others sit and stare into space when they feel anxious. Excessive teeth grinding usually arises as an unconscious habit meant to help us keep our stress and anxiety levels under control. Bruxism can also be a result of the central nervous system producing hormones that cause several physical responses to stress, such as tense muscles and an increased heart rate.
Problems With The Teeth And Jaw
Excessive bruxism can occur when the upper and lower teeth don’t meet properly. Other people can also develop the condition when they have missing or crooked teeth. Even if you don’t have any serious problems with your teeth, you can still develop bruxism if you don’t follow proper jaw posture.
Bruxism and other physical reactions can occur as side effects of antidepressants and other psychiatric medications. Excessive teeth grinding has also been linked to certain neurological diseases, such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.
We’ve all probably experienced grinding our teeth in our sleep more than once. Sleep bruxism usually occurs when there's increased cardiovascular and muscle activity in the body. People who are dealing with too much stress or other psychological problems can also unconsciously grind their teeth in their sleep. This condition can also occur as a result of sleep breathing disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea.
Certain lifestyle choices, such as excessive smoking and drinking, can also be major causes of bruxism. Various physical reactions, such as an increased heart rate, shaking hands, and excessive teeth grinding often occur because of substances like tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol. Even if you aren’t a drinker or smoker, you can still develop bruxism when you drink sports drinks and coffee way too much.
How Do I Stop Grinding My Teeth?
Bruxism can easily be treated with lifestyle changes and various other treatments. If your bruxism stems from too much stress, you can replace this habit with healthier coping mechanisms. Breathing exercises, journaling, walking, and taking a warm bath are some alternative activities that can do a better job of lowering your stress levels without causing any adverse effects on your health. You can also consult your local therapist to explore other possible treatments and coping mechanisms.
Teeth grinding due to an abnormal bite or dental problems can easily be treated by your dentist. He or she will be able to help you break this habit through reconstructive treatments, such as installing braces or crowns. If your bruxism stems from problems with your jaw posture than serious dental problems, you can ask your dentist to help guide you with corrective exercises or treatments.
Sleep bruxism can easily be treated with special night guards. These materials fit over your teeth to prevent any unnecessary contact and grinding. It’s usually best to use a custom-fit night guard made by your dentist as they’ll fit the natural shape and contour of your teeth best.