“Keep a stiff upper lip” or “get a grip!” That’s often the advice we get—and give—on how to cope with stress. If you take it literally, the result could be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaws. It’s called bruxism, and often it happens as you sleep.
Some people grind their teeth only during sleep; this condition is called “nocturnal bruxism” or “sleep-related bruxism.” Others grind their teeth during the daytime as well, most often during situations that make them feel tense or anxious. People with severe bruxism can fracture dental fillings or cause other types of tooth damage. Severe bruxism has also been blamed for some cases of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), mysterious morning headaches and unexplained facial pain.
Bruxism can have a variety of psychological and physical causes. In many cases, it has been linked to stress, but it can also simply be the body’s reaction to the teeth being aligned wrong or a poor bite (the way the teeth come together). Bruxism can sometimes occur as a complication of severe brain injury, or a symptom of certain rare neuromuscular diseases involving the face. Bruxism also can be an uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, including antidepressant medications, including fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil).
The symptoms of teeth grinding include:
Teeth that are painful or loose
Brit Phillips DDS can help diagnose the cause of your bruxism. If you’re concerned about your teeth grinding, talk to your local dentist about the potential causes and, if necessary, the possible solutions.