Bruxism is a condition in which a person clenches his teeth (holding tightly lower and upper teeth) or grinds his teeth (sliding teeth back and forth or from side to side). Generally people who clench or grind their teeth are not aware at all, and it is noticed by their partners or family members. It might happen during the day or night, but at night it is thought to cause more damages.
The reasons for teeth clenching or grinding vary widely. The most common causes seem to be:
- The stress and tension. Every day life has become more stressful nowadays. When a person is under a lot of stress mastication muscles contract causing tightening and clenching of the jaws. The more a person is stressed, the more bruxing or the harder bruxing.
- Abnormal alignment of teeth or incongruous restorations. This factor is also related to stress or at least enhanced by it. Since teeth are abnormally aligned the jaws don’t close in the right position so they tent to slide until finding the best positions so the mastication muscles can relaxes. But if the misalignment is serious there are chances that the jaw never finds the right position so the muscles stay contracted all day long and after some time starts the TMJ pain.
- Aggressive personality, frustration and suppressed anger.Many psychologists believe these conditions are the main cause for clenching and grinding teeth during the day.
- Physiological growth. In children under 6 years old bruxism is a normal condition during development. Bruxisem is a natural response to the changes in the jaws and teeth. But this condition must be temporary, if it persists longer than it becomes a pathological condition and a visit to the dentist is needed.
- Abnormal posture of the body. Leads to abnormal position of the vertebral colon, so abnormal contraction of the neck muscles. These abnormal contractions of the neck muscles causes imbalance of the jaws and so on teeth clenching or teeth grinding.
- Sleep disorders. Different studies have shown that persons who suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea ,snore loudly, daytime sleepiness have a greater risk of grinding their teeth. Other risk factors might be: sleep talking, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations etc.
- Lifestyle. Bad habits more than causes of bruxism are risk factors. Some of the them are: regular drinking of alcoholic beverages, smoking tobacco or drinking caffeine (more than six cups a day). Also other bad habits like keeping objects in your mouth like pencils or else could cause teeth clenching and teeth grinding. Another factor would be biting your nails.
- Drugs and medications. Some studies have shown that certain drug like antidepressants could cause teeth grinding and clenching. These results aren’t proved yet.
- Complications of other conditions and diseases. Some disease like Parkinson and Huntington can cause teeth grinding during the day or at night. Huntington’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects muscle coordination. Parkinson Disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects the person’s motor skills.
There are several symptoms of Bruxism. The most common one are similar with TMJ Symptoms like:
- Wear teeth down
- Chipped teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- TMJ Disorder
- Headache and neck pain
Teeth grinding and clenching can bring a lot of problems to the jaw, teeth or muscles if not treated. As soon as you are feeling some of these symptoms you should go to e dentist to receive the proper treatment and prevent any further problem.
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