Bruxism, the medical term used to describe what is colloquially known as teeth grinding, is a common problem. It affects millions of people. Read on to learn of 10 shocking facts about teeth grinding that will offer plenty of motivation to break the habit.
1. Not Everyone Knows They Grind Their Teeth
Unless they have partners who complain about the noise disturbing their sleep, most people don’t even realize that they are grinding their teeth unless they learn about it from their Family Dentists. That’s because most bruxism occurs at night. The condition can cause sore jaw muscles or headaches during the day, but those who don’t know they grind their teeth don’t always make the connection.
2. Children Are More Likely to Have Bruxism
Children grind their teeth more often than adults. It usually starts when they get their milk teeth in. Most kids will stop grinding their teeth until their adult teeth erupt. This isn’t usually a long-term problem.
3. Younger Adults Are More Prone to Teeth Grinding
Around eight to ten percent of modern Americans grind their teeth regularly enough to cause damage. Even more, go through jaw-clenching phases, but these come and go fast enough that they aren’t usually a problem. Chronic teeth grinding is most common in patients between the ages of 25 and 44.
4. Teeth Grinding Can Cause Severe Damage
While a brief period of jaw-clenching stress is unlikely to do any significant damage, chronic teeth grinding can be a serious problem. It wears through the teeth’s protective enamel, exposing the softer inner layers, and places strain on muscles and ligaments. This causes pain, tooth decay, and unexpected jaw pops.
5. Stress Causes Bruxism
There’s a strong correlation between stress and teeth grinding. Many dental patients report job-related anxiety as a primary driving factor behind their stress and consequent teeth grinding. Finding ways to relax can help.
6. Sleep Disorders Play a Role
Those with sleep disorders like sleep apnea, snoring, or sleep talking are more likely to experience bruxism. That’s because teeth grinding is more common in lighter stages of sleep, and those with sleep disorders don’t spend as much time in a deep sleep.
7. Lifestyle Choices Can Contribute to Bruxism
There are a few lifestyle choices that can contribute to bruxism. They include drinking a lot of alcohol or caffeinated beverages, heavy smoking, and the use of recreational stimulants. Even some mental health medications can contribute to bruxism.
8. Tooth Extractions Can Also Play a Role
Having a back tooth removed can alter a patient’s bite. This, in turn, increases discomfort when the person’s mouth is closed, leading to increased teeth grinding. Misalignment and crowding can also contribute to bruxism.
9. Teeth Grinding Is Noisy
The reason people with partners are more likely to be aware of their bruxism is that teeth grinding is noisy. It can sound like snoring or, worse, like fingernails on a chalkboard.
10. There Are Solutions
The right solution to alleviating bruxism will depend on its underlying cause. Those who suffer from chronic stress may need to take up relaxation techniques, while people who use recreational drugs might have to quit if they want to protect their teeth. Others may be fitted with mouth guards for nighttime use.
The Bottom Line
Worried about teeth grinding? The best thing to do is schedule an appointment with a dentist who can evaluate the extent of the problem and suggest measures for mitigating it.