There's no definitive cause for teeth grinding or clenching — known as bruxism in the medical field — but doctors have identified potential causes of this common and damaging condition.
Teeth grinding is often associated with stress, but a variety of emotional states have been tied to bruxism. Anxiety, frustration, anger and tension are all considered possible causes of teeth grinding.
Of course, for you to identify the cause of your bruxism, you have to know you do it: Many people are unaware they grind their teeth while sleeping, until their sleep partner informs them or they experience symptoms, like tired jaw muscles, dull headaches, or damage on the inside of your cheeks or tongue. Once you notice these or other related side-effects, you can consult your dentist to confirm your bruxism and possible causes of it. The cosmetic dentists at Mississauga Dental Arts in Mississauga, ON, can assess the damage caused by your teeth grinding, help you determine the cause and recommend treatment.
The possible causes for teeth grinding beyond your emotional state. Bruxism could be related to other sleeping issues, like sleep apnea (a disorder when your breath is short, interrupted or pauses during sleep). It may also be a response to acid reflux.
Teeth grinding may not be related to a serious medical condition but rather a coping mechanism during situations requiring focus or deep thought. It may also be a symptom of your personality: Competitive, aggressive and hyperactive individuals have been found to be at greater risk for grinding their teeth.
With no definite cause of teeth grinding on the books, identifying and treating it is very much an individual process. If you notice your teeth are worn or sensitive, or if you're experiencing jaw or face pain, it's time to make an appointment with your dentist and ask him or her about treatment options for bruxism.