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Grinding Your Teeth?

Teeth clenching and grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common issue that many people experience. For many of our clients with this problem, they do not even realize that they’re doing it. This involuntary habit can occur during the day, or more frequently at night or while sleeping, causing significant challenges for both physical and dental health. Let’s consider the reasons for this habit, and how to reduce the damage it causes.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

If you grind your teeth while awake, then the cause is probably linked to stress or anxiety in your daily life. Physical changes such as faster breathing, dilated pupils, and the tensing of muscles are common when under stress. The tensing of your jaw muscles may cause you to subconsciously grind your teeth together.

Poor quality sleep also contributes to the likelihood of teeth grinding. It is widely known that stress makes it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep. Disorders such as sleep apnea and ADHD also impact the quality of sleep. Studies show that most bruxism takes place in non-REM sleep. So, anxiety or sleep disorders that do not allow you consistent REM sleep create a higher risk of teeth grinding while sleeping. Other known causes of bruxism are certain types of anti-depressant medications called SSRI’s (serotonin reuptake inhibitors), misaligned teeth, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. If teeth grinding is a chronic issue, it is important to seek professional help.

Results of Teeth Grinding

Regular bruxism negatively impacts your physical and dental health. Teeth grinding often leads to jaw pain, headaches, and disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the jaw to the skull. These symptoms tend to make daily life challenging, causing discomfort and even affecting one’s ability to eat or speak.

Chronic bruxism also wears down the tooth enamel, increasing tooth sensitivity, and even fracturing teeth. Over time, uncontrolled bruxism may result in the need for extensive dental work, including crowns, bridges, or implants. Unfortunately, bruxism is also notorious for damaging the restorations that replace the broken teeth it causes. Therefore, preventing the damage is paramount!

Reducing the Damage from Teeth Grinding

Once you have determined the cause of your teeth grinding, you want to work on reducing the habit. Consider the following recommendations:

  • Manage your stress. Since stress is a common cause of bruxism, try relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. Physical exercise also reduces anxiety and stress by prompting your brain to release hormones that disrupt negative thought patterns. This improves your mood and in turn helps reduce grinding.
  • Get better sleep. Decide on and keep to a good routine for sleep. Limit your screen time, perhaps even keeping smartphones, laptops, and other devices out of the bedroom. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine prior to bedtime. Stimulants can cause long lasting side effects in your body resulting in involuntary muscle movements like teeth grinding. Alcohol is also problematic, since it disrupts the REM sleep cycle and leads to low quality sleep that promotes teeth grinding.
  • Seek help from a dental professional. Make sure that you are scheduling regular dental check-ups. Visiting the dentist every 6 months helps identify possible signs of bruxism such as flattened, chipped, or loose teeth and unusual pain in your jaw. Identifying bruxism in the early stages allows you and your dentist to proactively reduce the damage caused by this habit. Your dentist may recommend the use of a custom-fitted mouthguard. These mouthguards cushion the teeth and prevent the wear and tear on tooth enamel caused by bruxism. If you suffer from misaligned teeth, then orthodontic treatment may also be recommended. Aligning the teeth improves your bite and reduces teeth grinding.

By understanding the causes of teeth grinding and taking proactive steps to address them, you can protect your physical and dental health and improve your overall quality of life. Check out our next article on the benefits of customized mouthguards to help you consider one treatment mentioned in this blog. Afterwards, make sure to let the Yuba City Dentistry Group assist you! Call or contact us online for help with bruxism!

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So far this place is really welcoming and inviting. Also friendly receptionists and assistant was very helpful