Teeth grinding and what it means
Have you ever been told that you grind your teeth at night? So, what does this mean?
Teeth grinding, often called bruxism in dentistry, is the unintentional grinding, chomping, or clenching of one’s teeth. While teeth grinding is often thought of as a nighttime ritual, it can also happen when you’re awake too. It is estimated that about 8% of adults and up to 33% of children grind their teeth—at night and during the daytime. Naturally, we ask, so why do we grind our teeth?
There are many factors that play a role in bruxism. Stress and anxiety are main reasons why people grind their teeth. When we are stressed, our bodies release two hormones—adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are known to increase our heart rate, blood pressure and energy levels. This increase results in excessive muscle tension in our jaw and chewing muscles, which cause people to grind their teeth. Certain medications can also induce bruxism, as well as certain lifestyle habits including alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes. Additionally, it may just be jaw issues or genetics. Jaw issues, like an abnormal bite or misaligned/missing teeth, prohibit the teeth to properly glide past each other, so you’ll hear a grinding sound. There is also a strong genetic link between family members who grind their teeth, although researchers have not found a “bruxism” gene.
Teeth grinding can lead to a lot of problems, including jaw pains, headaches, and teeth sensitivity. Grinding can damage the soft tissue directly, causing teeth to loosen and deep pockets to form where bacteria are able to colonize and decay the supporting bone.
What can we do to mitigate teeth grinding? A mouthguard is one of the best solutions to help with bruxism (we provide this!!). Invest in a heavy-duty mouthguard that is custom-fit—it will help stop enamel damage and relieve muscle tension. Botox injections around the jawline can also be another solution, but only works temporarily. Changing your lifestyle is another solution by cutting back on alcohol and caffeine.