Causes Of Bruxism
Although bruxism causes are unknown, one study links it with such factors as anxiety, stress, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking,caffeine, sleep apnea , snoring and fatigue. Importantly, psychiatric or psychological factors do not play a role in most cases. Use of certain medications, including amphetamines, are also associated with episodes of bruxism. Sleep apnea may also be related to sleep bruxism, and evidence suggests that treating sleep apnea can help alleviate sleep bruxism.
It is known that bruxism rarely occurs alone. Research has consistently found that bruxism is found more frequently in those individuals who have an existing sleep disorder such as snoring, breathing pauses during sleep and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Other parasomnias such as sleep talking, violent or injurious behaviours during sleep, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations (semi-consciousness between sleep and wake) are also more frequently reported by bruxists and tooth grinding individuals. Of these, OSA appears to be the highest risk factor as it is associated with an arousal response. The termination of the apnea event is often accompanied by a variety of mouth phenomena such as snoring, gasps, mumbling and tooth grinding.
Bruxism Causes: the New Red Flag for Sleep Apnea
Grinding is the new indicator for obstructive sleep apnea. If you grind your teeth, the new standard of care is that you get a sleep study because you are likely having episodes of interrupted breathing during the night and missing out on all the health benefits of deep stage sleep.
Even if you’re otherwise healthy, sleep apnea is known to significantly increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
A Swedish study estimated that as many as half of women aged 20 to 70 suffer from some degree of sleep apnea — which can range from slight to severe. The old idea of an obese, middle-aged man who snores is no longer what we should think of when it comes to sleep apnea.
So, if you’re grinding your teeth, you should be concerned with two things:
- Protecting your teeth from the strong vertical forces of grinding, which can cause them to break, crack, become sensitive, cause you pain, and prematurely yellow and cause your gums to recede.
- That you are likely to have sleep apnea and should look into getting tested for this potentially life-threatening condition.
Lifestyle Choices – Other Bruxism Causes
Certain lifestyle choices can increase your chances of suffering from bruxism, including a high intake of alcohol, taking recreational drugs, and smoking large amounts of tobacco.
What to Do If You Grind Your Teeth
Talk to your dentist. Your dentist can’t make the diagnosis — she or he will leave that to the sleep medicine MD, but your dentist can screen you for teeth grinding and examine the beginning of your airway as you lie flat in the chair at your next appointment. A SomnoDent oral device keeps the airway open while you sleep, which can work great in treating adverse effects of bruxism.
Talk to your doctor about getting a sleep study. Ultimately, you will need a sleep study to get a diagnosis for sleep apnea from a sleep specialist.
Reconsider the night guard. This is the old way of thinking and, even though it’s protecting your teeth, your night guard could even make your sleep apnea worse.
Find out if you suffer from bruxism. View the symptoms and know what to look (or listen) for.