Dental Bruxism

Bruxism is a very common condition that will affect most people at some point during their lifetime. While for some it is temporary and resolves itself within a few days, other people experience repeated episodes that quickly begin to have a significant impact on their life.

Bruxism is a condition characterized by the subconscious or unconscious clenching and grinding of our teeth. This triggers a variety of symptoms including facial pain, headaches, ear aches, pain, and stiffness in the jaw and disrupted sleep. In some instances, patients can even suffer from extensive erosion and broken teeth. Many patients don’t even realize that they are suffering from bruxism until they visit their dentist.

Here is what you need to know about the causes of bruxism.

Causes of bruxism

Bruxism can usually be attributed to a number of different causes. However, as every patient is different it will be necessary for your dentist to review your individual circumstances to determine what is triggering you to be suffering from this condition.

Some of the most common causes of bruxism include the following:

Stress / Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are far the most usual reason to suffer from bruxism. This can be generalized or due to a specific reason such as financial pressures or relationship problems. When we feel stressed, we naturally clench our jaw, causing our teeth to rub against one another. Even if we don’t necessarily experience the stress or anxiousness during the day, often it manifests at night when we are asleep. This is one of the reasons why teeth grinding is more common at night.

Sleep disorders

Did you know, if you have another type of sleep disorder you are more likely to also experience bruxism. Patients who experience insomnia, who have problems staying asleep or experience repeated episodes of daytime sleepiness report the symptoms of bruxism on a regular basis. So too do people who have diagnosed or undiagnosed sleep apnea – a condition where their regular pattern of breathing is interrupted due to the collapse of soft tissue at the back of the throat blocking the airway.

Certain medical conditions

Studies have shown that patients who are diagnosed with certain medical conditions, and/or are taking specific medications are at higher risk of suffering from episodes of bruxism. These includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Autism/Autistic Spectrum Disorders including ADHD

  • Brain injury conditions including Alzheimer’s Disease and stroke

  • Cerebral Palsy

  • Depression

  • Down Syndrome

  • Parkinson’s Disease

Other lifestyle factors

In addition to the factors listed above, there are also a number of lifestyle choices that can contribute towards the development of bruxism. These include excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco consumption, recreational drug use and being reliant on caffeine and energy drinks. This is because these are all known to interrupt sleep patterns and in the case of most, act as a stimulant, causing your nervous system to go into overdrive. Although many people think that alcohol is purely a relaxant, it too can affect the nervous system in a negative way when you sleep, increasing your risk of grinding your teeth while you sleep.

If you would like more information about the causes of bruxism, or if you believe that you may be suffering from the condition and you would like the advice and support of a professional, our friendly, reassuring and experienced dental team would be delighted to help. Please contact us today at 520-224-1600 to arrange your confidential consultation.