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Why do more and more people grind their teeth at night?

Why do more and more people grind their teeth at night?

Every morning, Morgan, 23, woke up with a headache and a sore jaw. The pain was sometimes so severe that the young woman could no longer fully open her mouth or eat properly. And for good reason. Every night, without realizing it, she gritted her teeth. She squeaked so loudly that it hurt her fangs.

Morgan suffers from bruxism, a symptom of clenching or grinding her teeth during the day or while sleeping. “Most cases are nocturnal and occur during paradoxical sleep, which makes the phenomenon uncontrollable,” says Christophe Lecoire, a dental surgeon and spokesman for the French Federation for Oral Health (UFSBD).

People who suffer from nighttime teeth grinding are not aware of it, and are often alerted by those close to them, especially by their bed-sharing partner.

Increase since Covid

Some people consult their dentist after tooth or jaw pain, or even after a referral from an orthopedist for back or neck pain. “Dentally, bruxism can lead to tooth wear and even tooth fracture,” explains dentist Priscilia Ziri. At the level of joints and muscles, we notice pain, and even clicking or cracking. »

Although it is difficult to obtain accurate figures on the number of people who suffer from bruxism (about 10% of the population), dentists have noticed a significant increase in consultations for this reason, especially among young people, in recent years.

Symptoms associated with anxiety

An increase that can be explained in particular by the fact that the general public is more familiar with this term today. but that is not all. “The society in which we live is particularly stressful and we know that anxiety is the main cause,” emphasizes Christophe Lecoire. We have also seen a very significant increase in cases during Covid. »

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The same explanation came from Priscilia Ziri, a dental surgeon, who mentioned “a lot of fairly troubling events recently.” “I think that these patients are often controlling, they find it difficult to let go and express their feelings, and therefore express them through their teeth,” the doctor analyzes.

Dental surgeon Sandy Cohen asks her patients who consult her about tooth grinding to fill out a medical questionnaire. “I find that the number of patients taking antidepressants is much greater than before.” Some of them are going through painful life events, such as a breakup, or difficult periods, such as university exams.

But other social factors also play a role in their level of anxiety. “I had a patient who explained to me that he no longer slept at night due to hyperplasia.”

Work to do on yourself

Strictly speaking, there is no cure for bruxism, but there are solutions to prevent it from causing too much damage. If dentists are able to prescribe splints and muscle relaxants to relieve their patients, “bruxism may sometimes be necessary,” estimates Priscilla Ziri, who believes that “bruxism is a symptom of something.”

She also invites her patients to consult a therapist if necessary. “I open the door but then, that's not my responsibility.” “Anything that can reduce stress helps reduce teeth grinding,” Sandy Cohen explains to her consultees.

Relaxation, sophrology, yoga, breathing exercises… Everyone has their own way to reduce stress. Morgan ended up understanding the origin of teeth grinding. “I've been suffering from anxiety and depression disorder for five years already, but this anxiety was very internal.” His dentist also explains to him that teeth grinding can be hereditary. “Through talking to my parents I learned that my father suffered a bit from it when he was younger also. »

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For three years, Morgan slept with a splint and, above all, managed to treat her anxiety disorder and depression. “I feel pain very rarely before, and my sleep and quality of life have actually improved a lot.”