Why Are My Teeth Grinding?

Many people suffer from a condition where they find their teeth grinding, which is to say rubbing against one another under pressure or experiencing excessive tightening of the jaw. This problem, called “bruxism” by dentists, affects thousands of people every year, and can cause serious long term oral health problems if not dealt with. While there aren’t clear answers to why this happens, there are treatments that can be used to help those that suffer from bruxism find relief.

Types of Teeth Grinding

There are two general types of bruxism: the kind that happens during sleep, called “sleep bruxism,” and the kind that happens while somebody is awake, appropriately called “awake bruxism.” In both cases, teeth grinding over a long period of time can lead to tooth sensitivity, headaches, and jaw pain. Usually this happens over the course of the grinding, so that those with sleep bruxism wake up in pain that goes away as the day goes on, and those with awake bruxism wake up fine, but end up with increasingly levels of pain as they go through their routine.

It is not known what causes either form of bruxism; it probably is a combination of factors. It is suspected that sleep bruxism and awake bruxism have different causes based on current studies. Women tend to suffer more from awake bruxism than men, though men and women suffer from sleep bruxism in roughly equal numbers.

Regardless of the type, bruxism can cause an array of dental problems, including cracking and even breaking of teeth. Tooth wear is the most common effect, where the teeth are literally ground away over time, and that’s one of the reasons why early interventions are best.

Dealing with Bruxism

There is no “cure,” per se, but there are a number of treatments that may work to help either stop grinding, or at least reduce the amount of damage it can do. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important, once you’ve realized what’s going on, to go to a doctor immediately. If you’re afraid of dentists, you might want to consider one that practices Sedation Dentistry, like Dr. Nahel Yanni of the Dental Group of East Brunswick. They can help you get through the exam and any necessary procedures to try to find a solution that is right for you.

You don’t have to live with bruxism, and trying to do so will lead to problems down the line. You’re much better off seeing a qualified dentist if you find that teeth grinding is affecting your life.