Did you know that around 30-40 million people in the United States experience bruxism? Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can be quite painful and cause serious damage to your teeth. If you suffer from this oral health condition, you may notice your teeth beginning to flatten, swelling and muscle pain around the jaw, and even clicking sounds when you open and close your mouth. If you think you could be suffering from bruxism, here are some common risk factors that could be at the root of the issue.
1. Stress and Anxiety
Unfortunately, bruxism is most commonly associated with high stress and anxiety levels. This is because teeth clenching is your body’s natural way of releasing the stress hormone known as cortisol. Therefore, if you’re having a particularly stressful period in your life, you could also be grinding your teeth as a result.
2. Certain Medications
It is not uncommon to experience bruxism as a side effect of certain medications. Often this side effect occurs with psychiatric medications including antidepressants. If you’ve experienced symptoms of teeth grinding as a result of a new medication, be sure to address this with your doctor.
3. Sleep Disorders
Sleep apnea can be quite destructive to your health. This sleep disorder causes you to stop breathing numerous times throughout the night, inhibiting a number of important brain processes that occur during your sleep. In many cases, this sleep disorder results when your tongue blocks your respiratory airway. Therefore, your body’s natural response is to grind your teeth as a means to reopen it. If you’re dealing with sleep apnea, you may also notice other symptoms like lack of energy, dry throat, restless sleep, forgetfulness, mood changes, and even depression in addition to bruxism.
4. Harmful Habits
Certain aspects of your lifestyle can also lead to bruxism. For example, if you regularly drink too many caffeinated beverages, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol in excess, this could lead to nighttime bruxism.
5. Bite Misalignment
Unfortunately, bruxism can also be caused by a misaligned bite. When your bite is uneven or you have crooked teeth, it can cause pain and pressure on your jaw joints—this condition is known as TMJ. It is thought that TMJ could lead to bruxism, as it causes your jaw to spasm and, thus, your teeth to grind together.
6. Family History
Nighttime bruxism often runs in the family. This means that if you have a parent or sibling who has been diagnosed with bruxism, you could also be at risk. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of this oral health issue if a family member suffers from it.
7. Other Health Conditions
Bruxism has been linked to a number of medical and mental health disorders that may surprise you. This includes gastro esophageal reflux disorder, epilepsy, night terrors, ADHD, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. If you suffer from any of these conditions, be sure to mention any symptoms of bruxism you may experience to your doctor.
If you suffer from bruxism, we can help! Call Downtown Dental in River North or the Loop today to learn more.