Skip to content

Break the Habit of Bruxism

Posted in Dental Care, General Dentistry, and Pediatric Dental

One Patients Experience

“Shortly after my last cleaning at the dentist I began grinding my front teeth. It’s like I suddenly became aware of a sharp spot and became fixated on it. I now do it often, and subconsciously, I don’t even realize I’m doing it. Nothing really changed accept my teeth are cleaner than before. I have heard of bruxism (teeth grinding) being a problem for children, but I now know adults sometimes do it to. What are the main causes of bruxism or reasons why people grind their teeth, and how can I stop?” – Patient X

What is Tooth Grinding?

Simply, tooth grinding happens when a person closes there upper and lower teeth together and then move their jaw side to side. When there is no food in the mouth or when you’re not doing it to break up food, its tooth grinding. It’s not the same as clinching your teeth together to prepare for an impact instinctively. Grinding your teeth can be much more destructive. Teeth are the hardest substance in your body and the forces put on them by your jaw can exceed 150 pounds per square inch (psi). It’s true that tooth enamel wares down slowly over time with normal wear. However, bruxism speeds up enamel ware and can quickly damage your teeth.

It’s not good, so why do we do it? Bruxism has been compared to biting fingernails, picking at scabs, even twirling hair in your fingers. It’s one of those things people sometimes do without being aware of it. The truth is, no study has concluded, no one really knows for sure why people habitually grind their teeth. However, there are some theories out there.

Stress and Anxiety

One common denominator for bruxism is stress and anxiety. This type of thing is not always easy to diagnose as the root problem, as stress manifests itself differently, and can even exist without a person being aware that it is having an effect. Bruxism is more common among people with stressful jobs, for example first responders. Cases in children sometimes have a correlation with stressful family events. Some studies show a direct relationship with emotional stability and bruxism.

Consistent or Chronic Pain

Among the reasons for , Chronic Pain has been a strong contender. It also has a close relationship with anxiety as it definitely causes anxiousness. One medical leader says this about chronic pain. “Chronic pain last months or years and happens in all parts of the body. It interferes with daily life and can lead to depression and anxiety.” This condition is also the reason many who have it suffer from sleep deprivation as pain becomes more noticeable when we rest. This physical form of stress often causes a person to grind their teeth involuntarily.

Sleep Apnea

Those who deal with Sleep Apnea sometimes experience bruxism. Scientists who study different forms of Sleep Apnea, where your airway relaxes and closes during sleep, believe that the lack of oxygen triggers a reflex in the jaw meant to open your airway. Studies have shown that when this type of sleep apnea is managed properly, the bruxism goes away as well.    

How to Break the Habit of Bruxism?

If you know you have a problem, how can you break the habit of bruxism? First you need to get to the root of the issue. You know yourself best. Is it possible that you are suffering from one or more of the suggested causes mentioned? Doctors can help you manage anxiety, pain, and sleep apnea. Psychiatrists can help with anxiety, some medical doctors specialize in managing pain, and there are sleep apnea clinics. Additionally, you need to take some time to relax. Self-treat by taking up a hobby or go for a walk each day. Whatever you find relaxes you can possibly solve or slow down bruxism. In the meantime, if your teeth grinding is excessive ask your dentist for a protective mouth guard for when you sleep. These are commonly prescribed for kids, but your adult teeth can wear out just as fast.

Erbsville Dental Can Help

As mentioned, no one knows for sure why we do certain things. Bruxism is a bit of a mystery, and this article is not intended as a medical study and by no means is the final word on grinding teeth. Erbsville Dental may not be able to help you with the root of the problem, but they can help. If you struggle with bruxism or any dental issue, speak to Dr. Mathews today. Erbsville Dental in Waterloo is always caring, friendly, and experienced.