Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

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Understanding Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism, commonly referred to as teeth grinding, is a habitual condition where someone clenches their jaw or moves their teeth back and forth, often in an abrasive way without meaning to. Though it can happen when you’re awake, nighttime teeth grinding is of particular concern because the behavior can go on for years without the person realizing it.

What Causes Teeth Grinding

Not uncommon, occasional teeth grinding is usually harmless. However, if you find yourself grinding your teeth on a more regular basis then you may be causing damage to your teeth. Identifying what’s causing your teeth to grind is the first step toward treating it.

Common causes include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Abnormal or misaligned bite
  • Missing, cracked, or crooked teeth
  • Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Neurological disorders such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s
  • Antidepressant medication

Symptoms of Teeth Grinding

In some instances, the symptoms of Bruxism may be the only way to tell if you’re grinding your teeth at night. Specific signs to look for include:

  • Dull, constant headache
  • Sore jaw
  • Grinding noise while you sleep that’s heard by others
  • Excessive wear on teeth

If left untreated, teeth grinding can lead to enamel loss. Brushing twice daily with a toothpaste formulated to strengthen enamel can help lessen the damage.

Treatments for Teeth Grinding

In most cases, bruxism is often mild and doesn’t require any additional treatment. However, if your teeth grinding is chronic and severe, speaking to your dental professional is important. To protect your teeth from further damage your dentist may recommend a mouthguard to be worn while you sleep. If your teeth are beginning to show signs of wear and enamel loss you may be fitted for one (or more) of the following:

If your bruxism is linked to anxiety or stress, identifying the stressors would be your next step. Finding ways to relax, physical therapy focusing on your jaw, meditation, exercise, and muscle relaxants may help.


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