Bruxism: Why do I grind my teeth?

It is estimated that up to a third of the population grind their teeth.

Bruxism – as teeth grinding is medically known – usually affects people in their sleep, when they grind their teeth or clench their jaw. It can also be an issue throughout the day – although this is usually just jaw clenching.

But what causes people to grind their teeth?

Causes of bruxism

There is no exact answer as to what causes people to grind their teeth. As it is largely a subliminal action most of the possible causes are psychological.

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disorder
  • Medication side effect
  • Lifestyle factors

Stress and anxiety are seen as a major factor in teeth grinding. This is in part due to the fact that stress can cause sleep disruption, which bruxism is commonly related to. It goes without saying that when someone is worried or anxious this can affect their ability to relax, which has a knock-on effect for sleep quality.

Likewise if someone already displays some sort of sleep disorder, such as snoring, sleep apnoea or sleep talking they are more likely to grind their teeth.

As with many other issues, lifestyle factors can also play a part in bruxism. The energy boost that many people enjoy with their cup of coffee can be a factor in teeth grinding if multiple cups (more than six) are consumed on a daily basis.

Drinking alcohol, smoking and using recreational drugs have all also been shown to be a possible cause of some cases of bruxism.

Teeth grinding can also affect children, although this is generally linked to the arrival of baby teeth and later adult teeth.

Treatment for Bruxism

If you recognise that you are suffering from stress and anxiety, the first step in combating bruxism will be to deal with those underlying issues. Identifying the cause of stress will be helpful and then working on making changes, if possible, to ease the pressure. The NHS suggests a number of ways to try to combat the effects of stress. If you are struggling with anxiety or stress it may be worth contacting a medical professional for help.

Mouth guards to protect the teeth can also be made in consultation with your dentist, which while not removing the cause will protect your teeth.

If you are concerned about the effects of bruxism get in touch with Bhandal Dental Surgery.