Do you find yourself clenching and grinding your teeth? Tooth clenching and grinding, technically known as bruxism, is a common cause of tooth wear and damage. Whether you’re grinding your teeth at night or during the day, it’s important to get it treated before it causes serious damage to your teeth.

However, the treatment for your bruxism depends on what’s causing the condition. Figuring out the cause of your bruxism can direct you to the best treatment.

woman suffering from jaw pain holds the side of her face

Stress-Related Bruxism

Stress is one of the most causes of bruxism. If you notice that your tooth clenching and grinding tends to follow on certain situations, such as confrontations at work, periods where your job is especially busy, or other stress-inducing episodes, it’s possible that this is your problem.

Stress-related bruxism may occur at the time of the stressful event, later in the day, or even at night while you’re sleeping.

The cure for stress-related bruxism is usually to combat the cause: stress. There are many ways to combat stress, the simplest being simple at-home relaxation techniques. If you’ve tried relaxation techniques on your own without getting good results, then it may be time to get professional help. Many types of therapy are good for curing bruxism. Be wary of drug-related treatments, however, because some of these can actually make your bruxism worse.

Medication-Induced Bruxism

As we hinted above, there are lots of medications that cause bruxism – some of which you might be currently taking.

If you are taking antidepressants, these could be the cause of your bruxism. Bruxism is a side effect of many types of antidepressants including SSRIs (such as Paxil or Zoloft), SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, and lithium. So why do SSRIs cause bruxism? Experts aren’t exactly sure. The only thing studies have concluded is that bruxism usually takes place within two to three weeks of starting a medication and goes away three weeks after discontinuation.

Although there aren’t many antidepressants that don’t cause bruxism, it might be worth it to ask your doctor if they can prescribe you something different, like the non-SSRI antidepressant Buspar which can boost dopamine without causing bruxism. Researchers have found Buspar to be highly effective for depression and for preventing bruxism as a side effect. Consider switching your Paxil or Zoloft to Buspar to avoid jaw clenching and bruxism.

Other medications that have been reported to cause bruxism include dopamine agents. L-dopa, used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, has been linked to bruxism. Acid reflux drug Reglan (metoclopramide) has also been linked to bruxism. Ritalin (methylphenidate) has been linked to daytime bruxism.

With medication-induced bruxism, you might be able to get relief by reducing your dosage. 

Substance-Induced Bruxism

Another common cause of bruxism is the use of certain substances. For instance, one of the side effects of methamphetamine is bruxism because the drug increases anxiety in users. Ecstasy (MDMA) is also a common drug to cause bruxism. 89% of MDMA users reported grinding their teeth and experiencing jaw pain. Bruxism is also common with cocaine use.

Other substances that can cause bruxism include cigarettes alcohol and caffeine. Not only are all of these substances bad for your health, but they also cause bruxism. We highly recommend stopping any substance use to determine if it’s the cause of your bruxism. If so, your treatment might just include stopping your substance use and some restorative dentistry to repair your teeth.

Occlusal Bruxism

Another potential cause of your bruxism is when your teeth don’t fit together quite right. Your jaw muscles may be uncomfortable and may be trying to find a comfortable position, and in the process causing your jaw to clench and grind. Bruxism is often associated with TMJ. Bruxism can cause TMJ, and TMJ can cause bruxism.

In this case, a bite splint is a good first step in establishing a comfortable jaw position, and, eventually, we may decide to build up your teeth to provide a comfortable rest position.

Medical Condition Induced Bruxism

Certain medical conditions can also increase your risk of bruxism. If you suffer from any of the following conditions, it might be the cause of your bruxism.

  • Epilepsy
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
  • Night terrors
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Dementia
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Unfortunately, treating these conditions might not make your bruxism problem go away. In this case, we might recommend wearing an oral splint or night guard at night to protect your teeth from damage. 

Protecting and Restoring Your Teeth

If you have bruxism, it’s important to take steps to protect your teeth from damage. A bite guard can help reduce or eliminate damage to your teeth while you try other treatments.

If your teeth have already been damaged, we can repair them, using ceramic fillings, dental crowns, and other restorative dentistry techniques. Your smile can be restored to its proper dimensions and full health.

If you are looking for an Anchorage dentist that can help with your bruxism, please call (907) 349-0022 today for an appointment at Excellence in Dentistry.