You have an excellent oral hygiene routine, yet notice significant tooth pain and wear. You don’t know the cause and are now worried. Why do you think this is happening? 10% of adults experience unconscious and involuntary teeth grinding when they sleep; this condition is called bruxism and can cause wear and tear of teeth.
Sleep bruxism can be due to sleep disorders like sleep apnea, where you stop breathing temporarily, or because of snoring.
Unconscious grinding of your teeth can cause complications such as tooth pain, jaw pain, or tooth fracture.
It is, therefore, essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of this condition.
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Teeth Grinding Or Bruxism: Causes and Symptoms
Stress and anxiety are common causes of unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth.
Sleep disorders can also be a culprit behind teeth grinding.
People who grind their teeth can also have an altered anatomical or physiological state of the mouth.
They may have crooked teeth or an abnormal bite resulting in bruxism.
Smokers and alcoholics are twice as likely to develop bruxism.
Some common symptoms of bruxism are:
- Loose or fractured tooth.
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- A tight or tired jaw that won’t open completely.
- Face and jaw pain
- Problems in your temporomandibular joint
- Dull headache and earache
- Sleep disruption
What Is The Number One Cause Of Teeth Grinding?
Stress and anxiety are the leading cause of teeth grinding.
Clenching your teeth when you are stressed or anxious is typical behavior.
It continues in your sleep as sleep bruxism.
You can also develop this condition due to genetics.
Bruxism can run in families and increase the risk of developing this condition.
Sleep disorders such as apnea can also cause teeth grinding.
What Causes Teeth Grinding In Children?
Studies have shown that nearly 50% of children experience teeth grinding at night.
It can start as soon as teeth come in, so even toddlers and infants can suffer from teeth grinding.
A common cause of bruxism in children is misaligned teeth.
It can also occur due to pain, such as an ear infection.
Stress caused due to change in routine or an upcoming exam can also cause bruxism.
Sleepwalking, sleep talking, and bedwetting increase the chances of bruxism in children.
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Is Teeth Grinding Genetic?
Research has shown that teeth grinding can be genetic and run in families.
If your close relatives have bruxism, you are at risk of developing this disease.
How’s Bruxism Inherited?
21-50% of people with a close family member with bruxism will develop this condition.
These two genes are involved in stress regulation pathways.
Bruxism, Genes, and Serotonin
People with altered serotonin receptors are at an increased risk of developing bruxism.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that influences mood and memory.
Changes in the serotonin receptors, such as HTR2A, can decrease serotonin levels in the body.
It might result in anxiety which is the leading cause of teeth grinding.
Common antidepressants like SSRIs can put you at risk of developing bruxism.
Other Risk Factors For Teeth Grinding
- Age: Children are more likely to suffer from bruxism.
It usually subsides in adulthood.
- Personality type: Hyperactive or aggressive personality can make you unconsciously grind your teeth.
- Other disorders: Suffering from other health conditions can put you at risk of developing bruxism.
If you have dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or ADHD, you may also suffer from bruxism.
Is Bruxism A Neurological Disorder?
Bruxism is both a neuromuscular and a dental disorder.
Physicians are not typically trained to treat this disorder.
Dental surgeons and TMD specialists are better equipped to treat this condition.
Is Bruxism Related To Autism?
Teeth grinding is often a problem in children with autism.
In addition, they often cannot communicate with their caregivers.
Thus, it becomes difficult to treat them, and their oral health gets compromised.
They might also have eating and sleep disorders, aggravating the problem.
Consequences of Teeth Grinding
There can be several consequences if teeth grinding goes untreated:
- Damaged teeth: One of the long-term consequences of teeth grinding is tooth damage.
Teeth may erode over time, and you may experience pain and sensitivity.
Over time, dental crowns and fillings may also become loose.
- Temporomandibular joint issues: You may experience jaw pain from chronic teeth grinding.
You might also have difficulty chewing.
Does Grinding Teeth Cause Bone Loss?
Besides poor oral hygiene, bruxism is a common cause of bone loss.
Bone loss can loosen your teeth and cause other oral health complications.
You might need surgery to treat this problem.
Bruxism: Diagnosis and Treatment
Some people might not need treatment at all.
However, for others, it might become necessary.
- Stress reduction: Managing stress can dramatically reduce teeth grinding.
Practicing relaxation techniques before sleep is an excellent way to tackle stress.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can also significantly reduce stress.
- Medications: Some medicines may help improve the symptoms of bruxism.
Botox, used to limit muscle activity has been used to treat severe cases of bruxism.
- Dental night guards: Night guards designed for your teeth can protect them from damage due to bruxism.
You can talk to your dentist to get it custom-made.
For example, your dentist might recommend you use dental splints, which cover the teeth and prevent erosion.
Can Teeth Grinding Be Cured?
Teeth grinding cannot be cured entirely.
However, several preventive measures can relieve symptoms and decrease teeth and jaw damage.
What Happens If Bruxism Is Not Treated?
Chronic bruxism can compromise your oral health.
If left untreated, you might develop tooth pain and problems.
The outermost layer of your teeth, enamel, will erode, exposing the underlying dentin.
It will cause tooth sensitivity, and you might eventually have trouble eating cold or hot foods.
Bruxism can also cause chronic jaw pain, which might increase in severity over time.
Summary: Is Teeth Grinding Genetic?
Teeth grinding or bruxism is the clenching or grinding of teeth, usually at night.
It can cause significant oral health issues and damage teeth.
Bruxism runs in families and is a hereditary disease.
Other external factors like stress and anxiety can also trigger this condition.
Although it cannot be cured, bruxism can be managed using several preventative measures.