Bruxism is the medical term for grinding or clenching your teeth and jaws. Grinding refers to moving the jaw back and forth. Clenching refers to biting down with excessive force for long periods of time. Bruxism is a common condition and normally occurs during sleep or times of stress. Many people do not even know that they grind their teeth in their sleep until they are told by their sleep partner or dentist.
Over time, grinding teeth in sleep causes extensive damage to the structure and enamel of the teeth, which can lead to decay and increased sensitivity. It can also cause headaches, disrupt your sleep, and cause pain in the jaw, face, and neck.
Factors that may increase your chances of developing bruxism include:
- Age: Bruxism is most common in young children.
- Personality Type: Individuals who are naturally competitive, aggressive, or hyperactive are more likely to experience bruxism.
- Intense Emotions: Many people unconsciously grind their teeth when under intense stress or when they feel angry or frustrated.
- Certain Medications and Substances: Tobacco use, drinking caffeine or alcohol, and certain psychiatric medications can increase your risk of bruxism.
- Other Health Conditions: Bruxism is often associated with other conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.