Teeth grinding can be a serious problem. At the very least, it can be an uncomfortable and loud condition, akin to snoring, that keeps you and your loved ones up at night. But it is becomes a serious and long-lasting condition, bruxism (the official name for teeth grinding or extreme jaw clenching) can lead to jaw problems and wear down your teeth.
Because you want to keep your mouth in the best shape possible, you need to treat your bruxism. But first, you should probably find out what is causing it. After all, you can’t treat it if you don’t know what it is. Although doctors do not fully understand what causes bruxism, here are some common possible factors that are associated with bruxism and ways you can start to treat them.
Think about the stereotypical angry face, especially in emoji form. What does it look like? Barred and clenched teeth, of course. That sounds like bruxism to me—and there’s a reason for this association. Teeth grinding is often subconsciously used as a coping strategy for feelings of extreme stress, anxiety, frustration, or anger. If you are tense, or even naturally have an aggressive or hyperactive personality, that could be playing a role in your bruxism.
Try treating these with meditation and therapy. If it is a hormonal disorder, you could even try medication. Muscle relaxants, including Botox, are also a popular option.
A misalignment of your teeth or jaw (also called malocclusion) can cause bruxism. Think of it as your mouth trying to realign itself while you are asleep and miserably failing. The treatment for this is simple, but it does take more work. It might require braces or some other form of dental correction. Your dentist can also help by showing you jaw exercises that will help teach your mouth its proper position.
Other Physical Problems
There are a variety of other physical conditions that have been connected to bruxism, including:
- Sleep problems like sleep apnea or insomnia
- Ear ache
- Acid reflux
- Parkinson’s or Huntington’s diseases
- Certain medications
If you think that one of these could be causing your bruxism, talk to your dentist. Although children often grow out of bruxism, if you or your child is still having problems, make sure that you are giving your teeth proper protection with mouth guards and splints. It is important to treat both the cause and the symptom.