Why do I Grind my Teeth in my Sleep?

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You might be wondering why you knowingly or unknowingly grind or clench your teeth. causes of teeth grinding

Medically, teeth grinding is referred to as bruxism. In many cases, the condition occurs subconsciously, mostly at night but sometimes during the day. Bruxism is a para-functional habit that develops in some people at some point in their lives. The condition can occur among people of all ages.

If left unchecked, teeth grinding can lead to many unpleasant appointments with the dentist. The condition can lead to adverse effects such as mouth disorders and headaches.

Teeth grinding and clenching are among the top causes of sleep disorders.

There are a number of treatment options and medications for teeth grinding.

Causes of Grinding Teeth in Sleep

The causes of teeth grinding include mental, emotional and physical causes. The condition may also be caused by psychiatric reasons.

Most doctors believe that bruxism is mainly caused by mental and emotional factors, and that it is a result of improper teeth alignment.

Let us explore the causes of teeth grinding attributed to our daily physical anatomy and lifestyle.

1. Genetics

Did your parents grind their teeth? If they did, this can be the reason why you are a bruxer.

According to Professor Esther Gazit of the School of Dentistry at Tel Aviv University, bruxism can be caused by genetics. People who grind their teeth are likely to have inherited the bruxism genes from their parents. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about this cause.

2. Improper dentition

In medical terms, improper dentition is known as malocclusion or simply, teeth misalignment. Some people’s teeth that are not properly aligned and this may make them grind involuntarily. Irregular contact between the top and bottom of the mouth, regardless of whether the teeth are straight or not may also lead to grinding.

Other causes of bruxism related to teeth misalignment include slightly protruding filling or a wisdom tooth. These two conditions can be corrected by getting the teeth straightened by an orthodontist or realigned by a dentist.

An abnormal structure of the jaw can also cause teeth grinding.

3. Improper Eating Habits

sweet foodsMost people love drinking and eating sweet foods. If you take coffee, chocolate, cola, alcohol, energy drinks, and cigarettes regularly,  you are likely to develop teeth grinding.

Allergies like rhinitis can also cause teeth grinding.

Headaches and dehydration, which causes dry mouth and constipation, can also lead to teeth grinding.

4. Medication

People suffering from depression may be given antidepressants. These drugs can bruxism.

5. Infections

Diseases of the neural system and nervous system such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s respectively can also cause bruxism.

Regular infections such as fever and flu cause discomfort and can also lead to bruxism.

6. Growing new teeth

Teething can be painful and comes with a lot of discomforts. Teething is the major cause of bruxism at night in children.

Emotional and Mental Causes of Bruxism

Emotional and mental factors are major triggers of bruxism. Bruxism is associated with serious health issues such as migraines, cerebral malaria and depression. Studies (1) have confirmed that bruxism is related to a person’s state of mind.

Below are the main emotional and mental causes of bruxism:

a) Anger

Anger may be suppressed or expressed but either way, bruxism may occur. Someone who feels angry may clench his or her jaws knowingly or unknowingly to show their anger in form of aggression towards others.

b) Discomfort

Discomfort of any sort, especially at night, like a full bladder, headache or noise may make you grind the teeth. Unless the discomfort is gotten rid of, you may continue to brux.

c) Anxiety, depression and stress

At any time, you can be anxious, stressed or even depressed. These emotions may manifest in the mouth and face, and you may end up grinding the teeth during the day or night.

In humans, the jaw, teeth and facial muscles are collectively used as tools for emotional management. This is why some people eat a lot when they are stressed or bite their fingernails when nervous.

Other emotional and mental causes of bruxism include frustration, fatigue, tension, hyperactivity or aggressive personality.

If you are unable to manage your bruxism, you should seek treatment. Some of the treatment options include using mouth guards or natural mouth muscle exercises.



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