It is not uncommon for people to clench their jaw or grind their teeth at night. When this becomes a constant, chronic problem, then it is generally referred to as Bruxism. Those who suffer from bruxism tend to clench their teeth at night when they sleep, leading to jaw pain and other possible issues.
What causes clenching?
There are several proposed reasons as to why someone might clench their teeth at night, although medical experts do not completely understand the exact causes. These reasons include:
- Stress – People who are suffering from anxiety and
chronic stress are more likely to clench their jaws as they sleep.
- Medications, Alcohol or other drugs – A side effect of
some medication may be jaw clenching. Studies have shown that people who
consume alcohol, smoke tobacco, consume caffeinated beverages or use
recreational drugs are also more likely to clench their teeth at night.
- Genetic History – As with many things, teeth clenching
can be passed on through genetics. If you have a family history of bruxism, you
are more likely to suffer from it as well.
- Sleep Apnea – People who suffer from sleep apnea are also more likely clench their teeth at night.
Unfortunately, an exact cause for bruxism is hard to narrow down. Often minor clenching can lead to a jaw pain or a mild headache, but severe, chronic clenching can cause damage to teeth, migraines, and severe jaw pain.
If you are experiencing jaw pain or other symptoms, you may be clenching your teeth as you sleep. Talk to a TMJ specialist in Vancouver to assess what might be causing you to clench your teeth, and find a way to prevent it before complications arise.