Bruxism (teeth grinding) mainly occurs while individuals are asleep, which is why years often go by before sufferers realize they have the disorder. And when left untreated, cases of severe bruxism are capable of damaging tooth enamel and even fracturing teeth. If you're suffering from bruxism, read below to learn what causes the disorder and how to treat it.
The Connection Between Bruxism and Sleep Apnea
Until recently, little was known about bruxism; however, modern research has uncovered many important details about this mysterious disorder. One important new area being studied is sleep apnea, a disorder that involves frequent interruptions in breathing during sleep.
Believe it or not, bruxism actually helps you breathe at night if you are suffering from sleep apnea. If you have a partial blockage in your airways while you are sleeping, grinding your teeth helps to open the airways. This fact is why bruxism is found more frequently in individuals with sleep apnea.
Consequently, if you are suffering from bruxism, it's important to note if you show signs of sleep apnea, including the following:
If you have one or more of the above symptoms, speak with your dentist about being tested for sleep apnea. Treating sleep apnea is sometimes all that is needed to put an end to nighttime teeth grinding and the damage it causes.
The Link Between Bruxism and Stress
Research has also found a strong link between stress and bruxism. For individuals living a stressful lifestyle, reducing stress often reduces nighttime teeth grinding—and can even stop bruxism altogether.
Stress comes in many forms. Here are some common sources of stress to pay attention to if you're suffering from bruxism:
Make lifestyle changes to correct the above issues, such as seeing a therapist, spending time relaxing with loved ones, and treating clinical depression. Cut back consumption of caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Smoke less—or stop smoking altogether.
Small daily lifestyle changes will go a long way toward reducing your stress and your bruxism. So take a moment to create a list of stress sources you encounter regularly, and work toward reducing or removing these stressors from your life. For more information, contact a dentist such as Herbert A Asch.
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