New Research: What’s Grinding You?

Your daily “grind” might be stressing you out so much you actually grind your teeth at night. The causes of “sleep bruxism” which is the involuntary or habitual grinding of the teeth, typically during sleep, was studied by a group of researchers and recently published in the Head & Face Medicine journal. The researchers found grinding your teeth at night for some people may be a physical manifestation of daytime emotional stress and anxiety.

Tooth grinding at night is common amongst those who are trying to cope with stress by escaping from difficult situations. The study looked at 69 people (48 were “bruxers”) and found that bruxing can lead to abrasive tooth wear, looseness and sensitivity of teeth in addition to pain in the muscles responsible for chewing. Although the causes are still relatively a guess, stress and anxiety are the main contributors. Interestingly, it was found that the people with the most troublesome grinding are those who aren’t able to deal with stress in an adequate way and often prefer negative coping strategies like “escape “ and avoidance, which generally increases the feeling of stress. However, the stressor could be visualized in a positive way, it would actually reduce your level of anxiety.

If you do grind your teeth at night, call your dentist. You may be able to get a special mouth guard to wear at night. The mouth guard won’t protect you from daytime stress, but may help protect you from tooth wear and jaw muscle soreness.

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