How to Prevent Teeth Grinding

Are you grinding your teeth at night? The condition, called bruxism, can be a painful problem if it goes untreated.

You may not even know you’re doing it. But if you wake in the morning with jaw pain, headaches, or chipped enamel on your teeth, you might be grinding your teeth in your sleep, a condition called bruxism.

Understanding Bruxism

In most instances, teeth grinding is a nighttime problem – if you have bruxism, you’re likely doing it while you’re asleep and might not realize it. “Many times, someone’s spouse or partner is the first one to notice the bruxism due to the terrible grinding sounds it makes when the person is sleeping,” says Timothy Chase, DMD, a cosmetic dentist in New York City.

Researchers still aren’t exactly sure why bruxism occurs in some people, but there are a number of theories. “Studies have suggested that nocturnal bruxism is mediated by the central nervous system and is linked to sleep arousal patterns, brain chemistry, certain drugs, alcohol, smoking, and genetic factors,” says Karyn Kahn, DDS, a dentist with the Cleveland Clinic. “Medications, such as SSRIs that affect dopaminergic systems, have been associated with bruxism. Personality and psychological factors, stress, and anxiety have been shown in some studies to affect bruxism in some individuals.”

Bruxism does appear to be an equal opportunity nuisance. Men and women are affected equally, though bruxism is more common in children and less common as you age. “Approximately 8 percent of the adult population is affected by sleep bruxism,” says Aurelio Alonso, DDS, PhD, an assistant professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. “It can also affect 40 percent of children less than 11 years old.”

Know the Signs of Teeth Grinding

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