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  • Writer's pictureKatie Yeung

Bruxism - Sleep Related Issues

Bruxism (teeth grinding) is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. You may unconsciously clench your teeth when you're awake (awake bruxism) or clench or grind them during sleep (sleep bruxism). This can result in headaches, a sore jaw and even tooth damage amongst other problems.

Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth (brux) during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea).

Doctors don't completely understand what causes bruxism, but it may be due to a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors.

· Awake bruxism may be due to emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension. Or it may be a coping strategy or a habit during deep concentration.

· Sleep bruxism may be a sleep-related chewing activity associated with arousals during sleep.

Photo by Azamat Zhanisov

Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:

· Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner

· Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose

· Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth

· Increased tooth pain or sensitivity

· Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won't open or close completely

· Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness

· Pain that feels like an earache, though it's actually not a problem with your ear

· Dull headache starting in the temples

· Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek

· Sleep disruption

Contributing factors to bruxism can be:

· Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth grinding.

· Anger and frustration.

· Age- bruxism is common in young children, but it usually goes away by adulthood.

· Personality type- having a personality type that's aggressive, competitive or hyperactive can increase your risk of bruxism.

· Some psychiatric medications, such as certain antidepressants, although uncommon, can have a side effect of bruxism.

· Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or using recreational drugs may increase the risk of bruxism.

· Sleep bruxism tends to occur in families. If you have bruxism, other members of your family also may have bruxism or a history of it.

· Bruxism can be associated with some mental health and medical disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, night terrors, sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Bruxism can have a significant affect health and life quality. Hypnotherapy can address bruxism issues but it is always advised that this work is done in conjunction with regular check-ups with you G.P. to rule out underlying medical conditions.

All sleep disorder information is from the Mayo Clinic.

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