Bruxism, otherwise known as teeth grinding, is the rhythmic clenching of the jaws and grinding of the teeth that may develop at any age.

According to the Bruxism Association and MedlinePlus, people who grind their teeth are three times more likely to suffer from headaches, some other symptoms may include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Enlargement of facial muscles
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) discomfort
  • Stiffness of the shoulders and neck
  • Ear pain
  • Sleep disorder

It has been found that 70 percent of people clench and grind their teeth as a result of stress and anxiety. Some research has shown a possible link between teeth grinding and a stressful work environment. While there is little evidence to pinpoint the exact cause(s) of teeth grinding, the Bruxism Association  has highlighted possible additional causes for teeth grinding include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol/caffeine consumption
  • Depression
  • Sleep disorder

According to Colgate, the best way to protect your teeth and prevent tooth wear and fracture is to wear a custom made occlusal appliance such as occlusal splints, occlusal bite guards, nights guards, bite plates and bruxism appliances. Occlusal appliances are intended to reduce jaw pain and protect both your teeth and temporomandibular joint. Usually worn during sleep, these appliances are the most common type of treatment.

When sleep apnea is the assumed cause of Bruxism, mandibular advancement devices are the preferred treatment. These devices are fitted appliances that fit over top and bottom teeth and help manage sleep apnea/snoring by bringing your bottom jaw forward.

Additionally, it has been found that behavioral management is an appropriate treatment when grinding is caused by anxiety or stress. A study performed by the Bruxism Association has found that hypnosis has been found to help relieve the grinding of your teeth with positive long-term effects.

In any case, it is always recommended to discuss any potential treatments with your dentist in order to find the best medical regimen for you.