Bruxism is a medical condition characterized by the clenching or grinding of teeth, usually done unintentionally and unconsciously. It can occur either when a person is awake or when he is asleep. Sleep-related bruxism is often the bigger problem because it is harder to control. While the condition is not fatal in itself, unchecked bruxism causes increasing damage to the dental structure.
Some Common Bruxism Causes
There are various theories as to why a person grinds his teeth. Here are some of them:
Stress And Anxiety
Bruxism has been frequently linked to certain mental conditions, the most common being day-to-day stress. This link has been seconded by studies that have been conducted on patients with bruxism. These studies have revealed that people may grind their teeth due to stress and anxiety, without actually being aware of it.
There is a direct correlation between stress and bruxism i.e. greater the stress levels, higher the number of bruxism incidences. The reason for this could be the disturbing negative effect of stress on the quality of sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea (a sleep disorder characterized by the stoppage of breathing during sleep) is a known cause of bruxism.
You can be at a risk of bruxism if you:
- Sleep fitfully i.e. you sleep in intermittent bursts
- Tend to talk incoherently while asleep
- Are often aggressive in sleep (show signs like kicking out or flailing your arms)
- Experience a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis, in which you’re momentarily unable to speak or move while falling asleep or while waking up
- Hallucinate i.e. you experience certain sensations that are not real but only created by your mind
In rare cases, certain medicines such as those used to treat depression and elevate moods have been known to cause bruxism.
Specific Lifestyle Patterns
Modernity is not without its negative effects. You can end up becoming a patient of bruxism if your way of life involves:
- The consumption of too much alcohol
- Drug abuse
- Drinking six or more cups of tea or coffee in a day
Teeth Grinding In Children
There have been hints that as many as 50% of children grind their teeth at some point of time.
Your child may develop bruxism when his baby teeth come out or subsequently when his permanent teeth emerge completely (teething). Grinding that results from teething usually comes to a halt after all the adult teeth have emerged completely. If bruxism persists in children even after teething, it could be due to some of the reasons mentioned above, stress during exams being the most common.
Other Possible Bruxism Causes
Apart from the bruxism causes mentioned above, here are some causes that could leave you susceptible to bruxism:
- Crooked or missing teeth
- Abnormally aligned upper and lower teeth
- Ear aches
- Complications arising from certain disorders like Parkinson’s disease (a disorder of the brain that leads to trembling and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination) and cerebral palsy (a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking)
In many cases of bruxism, there is usually an underlying medical cause for the condition. It is best to counter bruxism causes by seeking treatment for the underlying condition first. Bruxism can progressively affect your teeth, jaws, and other dental structures, causing much pain in the long run, so it is highly advisable to seek prompt treatment for the condition.