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Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is an issue that may not mean much harm at first. However, if turned into a habitual practice, you’re exposing yourself to a great deal of risks. Keep reading to find out what these risks are, what causes bruxism in the first place, and what you can do to eliminate this dangerous habit.
What Is Teeth Grinding and What Causes It
As far as definitions go, it’s not too complicated to realize what this condition entails. Stress and anxiety are two contributors which may lead to the development of bruxism as a recurring practice. However (and this is where the really worrisome part kicks in), the majority of bruxism cases take place while you are sleeping. If you grind your teeth while asleep, chances are that there might be another possible cause at play: sleep apnea.
Because so many instances of bruxism happen during sleep, it’s truly difficult to identify whether you have this condition in the first place. If you don’t sleep next to someone who could potentially hear the sound of the grinding and alert you to it, all you have is subtle cues. Do you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw or a numb tooth ache? These should immediately ring some alarms.
Risk Factors and Complications
We’ve already established that anxiety, stress, and conditions such as sleep apnea could potentially develop into a teeth grinding habit. However, there are other contributors which might increase the likelihood of bruxism happening to one person or another.
- Bruxism most frequently occurs in young children. However, this particular type of teeth grinding isn’t really dangerous, as children continue to replace their teeth and this condition usually disappears when entering teenage years.
- Your personality – certain traits, respectively – can also have a strong say. If you are more aggressive, nervous, or competitive by nature, you will probably develop habits which internalize these feelings.
- If you are a smoker or a drinker, you are increasing the risk of becoming a ‘victim’ of bruxism.
It’s note mentioning that bruxism is mostly harmless, especially the one that affects young children. However, when arising in adults, it has the potential of leading to complications that could pose serious threats to your dental health.
- You’ll risk damaging, fracturing, or even loosening your teeth.
- There’s the possibility of also harming your jaw or completely altering the shape of your face.
- Facial pain or tension-induced headaches might occur as well.
How to Control Teeth Grinding
Because you can’t consciously keep yourself from grinding your teeth, you’ll need something else to help you achieve this. An appliance known as an occlusal appliance is the most common bruxism treatment. It’s essentially a fitted plastic mouth piece which keeps you from grinding your teeth.
Even though this mouth piece will take care of the physical aspect of teeth grinding, it’s important to not forget that the actual causes are emotional. If you suffer from sleep apnea, see to treat it. Moreover, if anxiety or stress are giving you a hard time, find ways to reduce them.