More than 40 million people grind their teeth in the United States. In fact, 5-10% of these grinders have symptoms that are severe enough to cause damage to their teeth. Bruxism is the unconscious act of grinding and clenching one’s teeth together. There are two types of bruxism such as sleep bruxism and awake bruxism. Sleep bruxism occurs during one’s sleep while awake bruxism occurs during wakefulness. The two conditions are quite different and the damage to your teeth is much more severe in sleep bruxism. This article provides information on bruxism symptoms and sleep disorders.

Sleep bruxism is known as a sleep disorder. It falls under the category of sleep-related movement disorders. This category shows characteristics of physical movements during sleep. These movements are usually involuntary or uncontrollable. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) and sleep related leg cramps fall under the same category. Untreated sleep bruxism is quite dangerous. In fact, such a condition can lead to many dental problems such as loose teeth, broken teeth, enamel damage, worn-down teeth, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and headaches.

Doctors are not 100% sure of the exact cause of sleep bruxism. There is evidence that the condition is related to sleep-related arousals. The respiratory and cardiac systems show a rise in activities during this condition. Most of the time, such arousals can take place more than 15 times within an hour during sleep. There is an increased jaw muscle movement – which is the source of teeth grinding. Sleep bruxism is common in people who suffer from other sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea. In fact, sleep bruxism is very common in people who have sleep apnea. It could be due to an unconscious response to the collapsing of the airways.

Bruxism can be a side effect of mental disorders such as stress, anxiety, and depression. In fact, more than 70% of bruxism cases are due to stress and anxiety. The condition is more common in people who are aggressive, hyperactive, and competitive. Children display the condition as a result of responding to teething or pain from earaches. The most common symptoms of the condition include:

. Teeth grinding and clenching
. Worn tooth enamel
. Tight or tired jaw muscles
. Jaw pain and soreness
. Loose, fractured, or chipped teeth
. Dull headaches in the temple area
. Sleep disruption
. Pain that seems like an earache

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