Do you ever wake up to a dull headache or a sore jaw in the morning? This could be a sign that you are suffering from a condition called bruxism or teeth grinding. This involuntary habit of clenching your jaw may happen at any age. Sometimes, people find out about their nighttime teeth grinding from their partners.
Other times, the grating noise resulting from their own grinding wakes them up. Flattened, chipped teeth, worn tooth enamel or increased tooth pain or sensitivity are some of the signs and symptoms associated with bruxism.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
- Stress and Anxiety
People who are constantly under stress or suffer from anxiety manifest this stress during sleep. The muscles connected to the jaw become overactive, so rhythmic clenching occurs as a result.
Teeth grinding can sometimes be a side-effect of taking certain types of medication. This condition in particular is linked to a type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
- Sleep Disorders
If you snore or have a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea, then you are more likely to grind your teeth in your sleep. This type of disorder takes place when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, often causing you to snore loudly.
You are also more at risk of grinding your teeth at night if you:
- Suffer from sleep paralysis, which is defined as the inability to move or speak during the short period before waking up or falling asleep
- Talk or mumble in your sleep
- Kick or punch in your sleep
- Experience hallucinations: see or hear things that are not real while semi-conscious
Other factors can also play a part in triggering night-time teeth grinding in people. These factors include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Using recreational drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine
- Excessive consumption of caffeinated drinks such as tea or coffee
- It is important to note that people who maintain an unhealthy lifestyle are at a higher risk of developing this condition.
- Misaligned Teeth
Tooth loss can alter the alignment of your remaining teeth, leading to an uneven bite. This misalignment affects the joints that control the movement of your jaw, triggering a domino effect of problems such as bruxism or teeth grinding.