Grinding Teeth at Night May Be a Sign of Daytime Stress

FRIDAY March 5, 2010 -- People who grind their teeth at night appear to be more likely to suffer from stress and also likely to use escapism to cope when things become difficult, new research out of Germany suggests.

Researchers led by Maria Giraki, of Heinrich-Heine-University in Dusseldorf, studied 48 people who were known to grind their teeth at night, a condition called "sleep bruxism," and reported their findings online March 5 in the journal Head & Face Medicine.

Teeth grinding "can lead to abrasive tooth wear, looseness and sensitivity of teeth, and growth and pain in the muscles responsible for chewing," Giraki said in a news release from the journal's publisher. "Its causes are still relatively unknown, but stress has been implicated. We aimed to investigate whether different stress-factors, and different coping strategies, were more or less associated with these bruxism symptoms."

The researchers measured the overnight grinding by placing thin plates in the mouths of the study participants. No particular age range, gender or education levels appeared to be at higher risk of teeth grinding, but those who did it reported more daily stress and stress at work.

"Our data support the assumption that people with the most problematic grinding do not seem to be able to deal with stress in an adequate way. They seem to prefer negative coping strategies like 'escape,'" Giraki said. "This, in general, increases the feeling of stress, instead of looking at the stressor in a positive way."

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more on bruxism.

Posted: March 2010


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