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A few causes of Teeth Grinding or Bruxism !!

So what is teeth grinding exactly? You may have seen cartons where the characters, when faced with a critical situation, start comically shivering with their upper and lower teeth hitting each other in a vibratory kinda motion. This may help you get an idea of what the condition is. But apart from the speed of the cartoon character, it is basically an individual applying pressure to the ends of the teeth using the opposite teeth restlessly.

So why does this condition occur? Take a look at a few of the reasons as to why people experience this condition which could cause lasting damages on both their teeth and even their sleep.

Anxiety experienced in social circumstances and cause Teeth Grinding !!

Researchers have found out that anxiety experienced in social circumstances elevated the risk of bruxism also known as teeth grinding which causes tooth wear, fractures, and jaw pain.

Researchers confirm that this isn’t simply a dental problem but can have clear dental consequences. And if individuals are aware of this condition, it can likely be brought to their consciousness. Psychiatrists can identify patients predisposed to bruxism and can try to help prevent the condition. Likewise, dental experts will also find ways to treat this condition.

The Study!!

The researchers evaluated 75 men and women in their early 30s using questionnaires. One group had 40 participants who had problems like social phobia, characterized by excessive fear in social situations.  

About under half of the group members were on antidepressant drugs – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). A control group of 35 individuals did not have social phobia. 

All the individuals underwent psychiatric and dental exams. Bruxism symptoms and oral habits such as chewing gum, nail biting and even small jaw movements with no tooth contact were all evaluated. 

The Results !!

While antidepressant drugs had previously been associated to bruxism, this particular study found no connection. However researchers observed the following things -

  • Moderate to severe dental wear was found in 42.1 % of the individuals with social phobia and 28.6 % in the individuals from the control group. 
  • The rate of jaw play was found to be at 32.5 % in the phobia group and 12.1 % in the individuals from the control group.
  • Finally, symptoms of awake bruxism were reported by 42.5 % of individuals with social phobia and by 3% in the individuals from the control group.

What do the researchers have to say?

Researchers conclude by saying that interaction with people seemed to be a likely factor in triggering bruxism or teeth grinding in socially anxious people. One way to cure this condition would be to treat people suffering from social anxiety thereby being able to simultaneously treat bruxism as well. 

The research was carried out by Dr. Ephraim Winocur of the Department of Oral Rehabilitation at TAU’s School of Dental Medicine and conducted by TAU doctoral student Roi Skopski in a collaborative study with researchers at Geha Mental Health Center in Petah Tikva, Israel.  

Teeth Grinding may be linked to Sleep Apnea !!

A research study had found out that there was a high prevalence in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This was also more common in mean and Caucasians compared with other ethnic groups. The number had be narrowed down to 1 in 4 patients in the study.

It was estimated that 8 % of the general US population suffered from bruxism, a condition which was frequently linked with a preexisting dental or jaw disorders and even stress.

The connection between sleep Apnea and Bruxism !!

The relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and sleep bruxism was described by researchers as something that was usually related to an arousal response.  The ending of an apneic event can be accompanied by a number of mouth related phenomena such as Snoring, Gasps, mumbling and lastly teeth grinding. 

It was also observed that men typically had more severe sleep apnea and even more arousal responses which may be the reason why there was a higher prevalence of teeth grinding ion men. Also, men characteristically were more likely to report symptoms of frequent sleep apnea such as snoring, loud grunting and witnessed apneas than compared to women.

 Teeth grinding could include anxiety and caffeine use.

Other factors which could establish the relationship between sleep apnea and teeth grinding could include anxiety and caffeine use.

High levels of anxiety could also lead to bruxism and untreated sleep apnea was also known to cause mood disturbances including depression and anxiety. Daytime sleepiness coming from sleep apnea could also cause an individual to ingest caffeine and this can also be linked with a high risk of bruxism.

The study !!

A researcher and his colleagues evaluated the prevalence of bruxism and gastroesophageal reflux(GERD) in 150 men and 150 women diagnosed with OSA. Each group consisted of 50 Caucasians, 50 African-Americans, and 50 Hispanics.

Results showed that - 

  • 25.6 % of patients suffered from teeth grinding
  • 35 % of all the patients with OSA complained of having nocturnal heartburn and GERD symptoms.

Researchers then examined the influence of gender and ethnicity on OSA, GERD, and bruxism. They found out the following results -

  • Bruxism was higher in men (43 %) than in women (31 %).
  • Caucasians had the highest rate of bruxism (35%) compared to other ethnic groups (19%).
  • African-Americans had the highest prevalence of GERD (40%) compared to the Hispanic population (31%) and Caucasians  (34 %).

However, there was no correlation observed between the presence of self-reported GERD and bruxism.

Is bruxism or teeth grinding serious?

Untreated bruxism could lead to -   

  • Excessive tooth wear and decay
  • Periodontal tissue damage
  • Jaw pain
  • Temporomandibular joint or TMJ pain
  • Headaches and sleep disturbances for patients and their family members

Bruxism can be considered both as a daytime syndrome as well as night-time syndrome, but bruxism occurring during sleep including short naps was responsible for causing the majority of health issues. 

The Conclusion !!

Several studies have shown that when sleep bruxism was related to OSA, certain therapies including continuous positive airway pressure could eliminate bruxism during the sleep.

According to researchers, sleep disorders such a sleep apnea could lead to secondary health conditions. If sleep apnea were to be treated, clinicians should also recognize and address secondary health conditions such as bruxism, in order to fully manage a patient’s sleep disorder.

The research was carried out by Shyam Subramanian, MD, FCCP, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas and Kalpana Guntupalli, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians.