Authored by R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen in Dentistry
Published on 09-02-2009
Preventing grinding teeth while you sleep is a problem that many Americans face. Grinding teeth, also referred to as bruxism, occurs when a person is grinding or clenching their teeth. Most are not aware that they are doing it. It is estimated that approximately thirty to forty million American adults and children have this problem. Often grinding one’s teeth can lead to a host of problems such as morning headaches, tooth damage, fractured dental fillings, temporomandibular joint dysfunction and facial pain.
One of the most common causes of teeth grinding is psychological stress. Preventing teeth grinding at night by those who suffer from psychological stress involves discovering and combating their stressors. Many people benefit from psychological and behavioral therapy. Others may benefit from psychological medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Some may need a combination of both therapy and medications to prevent them from grinding their teeth at night.
Some medications list grinding teeth at night as a side effect. If a medication is the cause, then to prevent teeth grinding at night the patient may need to alter their dose or switch to a different medication. Psychiatric drugs are the type of drug most commonly associated with teeth grinding. Antidepressants such as Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil seem to cause it the most.
Poor bite and having wrongly aligned teeth can cause teeth grinding at night. When this problem is the cause, preventing teeth grinding at night will involve fixing it. This problem can often be fixed with dental braces for most cases and those with just minor issues may benefit from a dental retainer.
Brain injuries can cause teeth grinding at night. Brain injuries can occur due to trauma or due to birth injuries. To prevent teeth grinding at night that is related to a brain injury the patient will most likely need to see a dentist and a neurologist. Many brain injuries are permanent so the teeth grinding may not be able to be prevented. However, a doctor or dentist can give the patient a dental device, such as a mouth guard, that will help prevent any further complications associated with teeth grinding.
Certain rare neuromuscular diseases can cause teeth grinding at night, particularly those that affect the face. When this is the cause, preventing teeth grinding at night will involve diagnosing the neuromuscular disease and treating it. Many patients who begin treatment for their neuromuscular disease will notice that they no longer grind their teeth at night. If they still grind their teeth at night a dentist or doctor may prescribe a dental device, such as a mouth guard, to help prevent further teeth grinding complications.
When teeth grinding is an issue it is important to figure out the root cause as soon as possible. To get a diagnosis the patient will need to first see the dentist and the dentist can refer them to another medical specialty for further evaluation if necessary. Many dentists may also recommend wearing a night guard to prevent the teeth grinding at night from leading to further complications.