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Rye Smiles for Life
10614 Warwick Avenue, Ste A, Fairfax, VA 22030

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Why Do You Grind Your Teeth?

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The majority of cases of grinding of the teeth (also called bruxism) occur while a patient is asleep. So you may wonder why you grind your teeth while other people do not. Here are a few of the many underlying causes of bruxism.

Common Factors in Teeth Grinding

The most common cause of grinding one’s teeth is stress. In fact, about 70% of cases are blamed on some kind of anxiety or stress.

If you also experience sleep apnea, you may be at a higher risk for grinding your teeth. While the connection is not known at this time, may suffer from both conditions.

Certain medications have bruxism as a side effect. This is especially true when it comes to drugs such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and SSRIs (a particular type of antidepressant that deals specifically with serotonin levels).

Lifestyle may also result in teeth grinding. For example, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and smoking have all been linked to bruxism. Cocaine and ecstasy, in particular, put a person at increased risk.

If you hear your doctor mention primary or secondary bruxism, what do these terms refer to? Primary bruxism usually has an underlying condition. For example, the grinding may be due to stress or sleep apnea. Secondary bruxism is associated with external factors like medication side effects and lifestyles that result in grinding of the teeth.

Getting Help for Grinding of the Teeth

Bruxism can cause many complications from wearing down the teeth and jaw pain to headaches and earaches. If you are suffering from this condition, what can be done?

For secondary bruxism, removing the external factor that is causing the problem is important. One may need rehabilitation to kick a drug habit, or a prescription may need to be adjusted. In the meantime, a custom-fit mouth guard can help to prevent further damage to the teeth.

If a person is dealing with stress, relaxation techniques may be recommended. Again, a custom-fit mouth guard plays a key role in protecting the teeth while the condition is being treated.

Since teeth grinding becomes a habit, even once the cause is removed, additional habit-reversal techniques may be needed in order to keep the condition from recurring. In such cases, a mouth guard may need to be in place for quite some time until the habit is broken.

As you can see, treatment often depends on the underlying cause of the bruxism. But rest assured that you can overcome this condition and keep your teeth safe.

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