Have you ever woken up and felt tension in your face or pain in your jaw? Do you frequently wake up with headaches?  Is there tension in your neck and shoulder area? If so, you may be suffering from nighttime bruxism (grinding and/or clenching of teeth).  Many people who suffer from stress clench their teeth during the day, and often this is even a reaction to a particular medication.  A lot of us are unaware of clenching/grinding while we sleep, unless someone tells us that we’re doing it. So, we’ve decided to cover Bruxism causes and effects to help bring the issue to light.

For the last 50+ years, bruxism has been documented as a predominant factor in the onset (or continuance) of TMD and myofascial pain.  Patients believe that bruxism is an underlying cause of their TMJ pain and dysfunction, and dentists believe that bruxism is part of the pathogenesis of TMJ disorder.

Let’s start with factors that can cause bruxism:

Stress – Anxiety, anger and frustration can result in teeth grinding/clenching.

Personality – If you are more competitive or hyperactive by nature, your chances of clenching  and grinding your teeth (either at night or during the day) are greater.

Age – Bruxism is common in children when they lose their baby teeth and their adult teeth start erupting.  It can also occur during the teenage and college years due to academic stress.  As an adult, bruxism results from work stress, issues at home, financial stress, and undiagnosed sleep disorders.

Medications/Substances – Bruxism is unfortunately a side effect of many medications, especially stimulants for ADHD and OCD, as well as antidepressants.  Coffee, caffeinated tea, energy drinks, tobacco and alcohol use also have a tendency to increase the risk of bruxism.

Other factors that may be related to bruxism include disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Parkinson’s disease, GERD (acid reflux), dementia, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, ADHD and OCD. Additionally, if there is a family history of bruxism, you may be more susceptible.

Now that we’ve talked about some of the Bruxism causes, let’s review the effects.
-Limited ROM (mouth opening up & down and side-to-side)
-Neck pain/stiffness
-Shoulder pain/tension
-Jaw pain, jaw clicking/popping
-Tongue indentations
-Ear pain (Otalgia)
-Receding gums
-Tooth mobility and/or hypersensitivity
-Sleep disturbances (for both you and your bed partner)
-Wear-and-tear on tooth enamel
-Tooth breakage
Untreated bruxism can lead to eventual jaw joint dislocation, which will need to be corrected either with an intraoral orthotic or TMJ surgery.

As dental professionals are becoming increasingly aware of sleep disorders and how to diagnose them, more attention is being paid to potentially harmful habits like bruxism.  It is now common that your dentist will ask you about daytime clenching/grinding (and your bed partner about grinding at night) during your regular check-up/exam. Increased masticatory function during sleep is thought to cause occlusal overloads and can lead to many complications during certain dental procedures. This especially affects the work of many Prosthodontists when doing restorative work including crowns, bridges and implants.  Periodontists as well are treating many patients for gum recession resulting from clenching and grinding.
If you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions, then you may be suffering from bruxism.

  1. Have you been told that you grind your teeth at night?
  2. Have you ever woken yourself or your bed partner up due to grinding noises?
  3. Has your dentist ever mentioned enamel wear or gum recession?
  4. Do you wake up with headaches?
  5. Do you frequently experience pain in your neck or shoulders?
  6. Do you frequently experience jaw pain, popping or clicking?

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Dr.Klein at (586) 573-0438, or visit our website.