Wondering why your grind your teeth at night? Possible causes include nervous tension, excess caffeine consumption, and drug or alcohol abuse. No matter the reason for the problem, the answer is to see your dentist in Selden for help.
Four Common Causes of Nighttime Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
All of us experience muscle tension in our jaws from time to time. It’s a normal reaction to the stresses of life. When the problem occurs repeatedly, however, it’s a sign that the sufferer can benefit from dental treatment. Here are four possible causes of this common condition:
- Emotional or psychological factors. Anxiety, depression, or prolonged stress can express themselves in many ways, including habitual bruxism.
- Side effects of caffeine or other stimulants. Sipping on soda or coffee all day long can keep the nervous system in overdrive, even when we’re resting. When this happens, our teeth may pay the price.
- Alcohol use. Most of us regard alcohol as a way to relax; and this may be true when it’s consumed in small to moderate amounts. But overdrinking can have exactly the opposite effect, leading to bruxism and other signs of nervous tension.
- Hereditary factors. The cause of your bruxism may be in your genes. Some of us inherit a propensity for the condition from our ancestors.
As you can see, the potential causes of nighttime bruxism are many. Sorting through the possibilities takes professional help. This is why you should make an appointment with your dentist or other healthcare professional as soon as possible.
What Can My Dentist Do about My Bruxism?
Your dental professional will perform a complete oral exam, review your medical history, and diagnose the underlying cause. Sometimes this can be done in office. Other times, your dentist may order a sleep study, especially if your tooth grinding is occurring alongside daytime fatigue or other symptoms of apnea.
Once the cause is determined, the next step is to find a way to help you manage or eliminate the problem. This may include any or all of the following options:
- Prescription antianxiety or antidepressant medications. These can ease the psychological suffering that may lead to tooth grinding.
- Pain relievers and muscle relaxers to treat the symptoms of the condition. These are most commonly used when the condition is affecting the patient’s quality of life.
- Systematic relaxation techniques. This approach helps the patient to release the nervous and muscular tension that is causing the problem or worsening its effects.
- Professional counseling or support group attendance. Many times, the only thing needed to stop the symptoms of bruxism is to lend the patient an understanding ear.
- Lifestyle changes. Reducing caffeine or alcohol consumption, exercising more often, and learning to manage stress can all help to bring teeth grinding under the patient’s control.
Bruxism afflicts millions of Americans. But modern dental medicine has ways to treat the condition. See your dentist soon about your symptoms. You’ll soon be on the road to brighter smiles.
About the Author
Dr. Stephen Scotto-Lavino studied dentistry at the New York University College of Dentistry, graduating in 1982. He has been treating patients here in our area for over 30 years. You can reach his office online or by calling (631) 698-9400.