During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was reported that dentists saw a 69% rise in patients who clench or grind their teeth, according to the American Dental Association. The problem is that most of these people probably were not aware that they were even clenching or grinding their teeth because it is an unconscious behavior.
Making matters worse is the fact that bruxism can apply up to 200 pounds of force to the teeth. That’s because the bite strength can be up to six times greater than when a person chews normally. This can lead to a lot of wear and tear on the teeth, even leading to teeth breaking. For older adults, teeth grinding is even more troubling.
What are the causes?
The troubling part is that bruxism can occur during the day or at night. What plays a significant role is stress. In moments of acute tension or during sleep, when elevated levels of stress hormones may still circulate after a difficult day, teeth grinding mahy occur. Smokers are also twice as likely to grind their teeth as nonsmokers.
Additionally, certain medications, such as some antidepressants and antipsychotics, can also increase a person’s risk for teeth grinding. As far as conditions go, those that affect the central nervous system like dementia, Parkinson’s disease or stroke can cause or exacerbate bruxism.
There is also a link with temporomandibular joint disorders, which cause pain around the jaw. And then there is obstructive sleep apnea. The pauses in breathing can cause people to unconsciously overcompensate and grind their teeth as they thrust their jaw forward in an attempt to open the airway.
This is why it is important to visit Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for diagnosis and treatment planning for teeth grinding.