Bruxism, which is a bite dysfunction that involves chronic teeth-grinding, can affect almost anyone. However, unlike more common issues like tooth decay and gum disease, which directly result from excessive oral bacteria buildup, bruxism can have several different potential causes. Therefore, the risk factors for developing it can be vastly different for different patients. Today, we explain a few of the more common of these risk factors, and how they might contribute to a chronic teeth-grinding problem.
The alignment of your upper and lower teeth plays a big role in your oral health for several different reasons. The appearance of your smile is one, but more importantly, the overall function of your bite can be thrown off due to the misalignment. As you bite and chew, your upper and lower teeth won’t meet each other as evenly as they used to. To compensate, your jaw joints and muscles will have to shift your lower jaw with every bite and chew. The discomfort and imbalance can also cause your jaw muscles to subconsciously force your teeth together as it tries to find a more comfortable resting position.
Your jaw joints and muscles are also essential to your bite’s overall function, and problems with these structures are common risk factors for developing bruxism. Your temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, are where your lower jaw connects to your skull, and how your lower jaw is able to move as comfortably and freely as it should. TMJ disorder can describe various types of damage to one or both joints, including inflammation, tissue degradation, misalignment of the joints, and more. Not only can TMJ disorder lead to significant discomfort in your jaw and facial muscles, but can also be a significant contributing factor to chronic teeth-grinding. In fact, bruxism and TMJ disorder are often closely related, as each can be a cause or an effect of the other.
Sometimes, bruxism might not be a direct consequence of a dental health problem. The chronic clenching of your jaw muscles and grinding of your teeth might be a symptom of excessive stress, which can cause several muscle groups throughout your body to remain constantly tense. Your dentist may be able help you eliminate other potential risk factors through a thorough examination, and if appropriate, recommend ways to reduce stress and lessen tension in your jaw muscles.
There are many different potential risk factors to developing bruxism. To learn more about identifying your bruxism risk factors, schedule an appointment by calling Yelena Popkova D.D.S. in Merrimack, NH, today at 603-595-9400. We also serve the residents of Nashua, Hudson, Manchester, Milford, and all surrounding communities.