Bruxism, more commonly known as teeth grinding, is when you rub or clench your teeth together. If you grind your teeth, you’re not alone. The Bruxism Association suggests that teeth grinding effects around 8-10% of the population1.
Although lots of people grind or clench their teeth occasionally, when it becomes frequent or a long-term habit, it can seriously impact the health and appearance of your teeth and jaw.
Bruxism is most common in 25 to 44 year olds2, though it can affect people of all ages, including children. You might not realise if you grind your teeth, because it often happens during the night, or when you’re stressed.
Symptoms of teeth grinding
Bruxism affects everyone differently, so it might not cause you any problems. If you do have symptoms, these may include:
- Facial pain
- Jaw pain, also known as TMJ dysfunction
- Damaged or worn-down teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Broken teeth or broken fillings in severe cases
It’s not just dental symptoms that can have an impact on your overall health; if you suffer from sleep-related bruxism, this may disturb your sleep and can even wake you completely.
Causes of teeth grinding
Bruxism can be caused by a range of factors, including
- Stress and anxiety
- Missing teeth, or teeth that aren’t in the right position
- Medications, such as a certain group of antidepressants
- Talking in your sleep, or sleep disorders like sleep apnoea or sleep paralysis
- Medical conditions including Parkinson’s, dementia and epilepsy
- Smoking, alcohol or recreational drugs
- Drinking lots of tea or coffee. According to the NHS3, this would be around six or more cups a day
- Genetics - Bruxism can run in the family
If you’re concerned about teeth grinding but aren’t sure if you’re doing it at night, you could ask a partner or friend to listen or watch out for it.
Managing stress and anxiety
If you or your dentist think your teeth grinding might be stress-related, or caused by a medicine you’re taking, you should get in touch with your GP. They can give you further advice or recommend other treatments to control your stress.
Trying to relax and get a good night’s sleep before bed can also help reduce teeth grinding in some cases. Techniques such as reading, having a bath or practising yoga before bed can help you wind down, making for a better night’s sleep.
If you smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs, try to stop. These habits often make teeth grinding worse.
Treating the effects of teeth grinding
If you suffer from bruxism severely, there may be damage to your teeth as a result. Your dentist can suggest which options are best for you depending on the extent of the problem. Some treatment options might include:
Worried about teeth grinding?
If you’re concerned about teeth grinding, it’s important you see a dentist. They can give you advice and check your mouth for any potential damage. Search for your local Bupa Dental Care practice below and get in touch, one of our friendly dentists will be happy to help.
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