Why are more and more people grinding their teeth at night?

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

Morgan suffers from bruxism, a condition that involves clenching or grinding her teeth during the day or during sleep. Christophe Lequart, dental surgeon and spokesperson for the French Union for Oral Health (UFSBD), states that “most cases are nocturnal and occur during paradoxical sleep phases, making the phenomenon uncontrollable.”

People suffering from nocturnal bruxism are not aware of it and are often warned by those close to them, especially their partners who share their bed.

Increase after covid

Some people consult their dentist following a tooth or jaw pain or even after a referral to an osteopath due to back or neck pain. Dental surgeon Presilia Ziri explains, “Dentally, bruxism can wear down and even fracture teeth. At the joint and muscular level, we notice pain, even clicking or cracking. »

Although it is difficult to obtain exact figures on the number of people suffering from bruxism (around 10% of the population), dentists have noticed an explosion in consultations for this reason in recent years, especially among young people.

A symptom associated with anxiety

An increase that can be particularly explained by the fact that the general public is more familiar with the term today. But that’s not all. “The society we live in is particularly stressful and we know that anxiety is a major cause,” underlines Christophe Lequart. We also had a very significant increase in cases during the Covid period. »

A similar explanation came from Presilia Ziri, a dental surgeon, who cited “a number of recent anxiety-provoking events.” “I think these patients are often in control, they have difficulty letting go and expressing their feelings and therefore express them through clenched teeth,” the doctor analyzed.

Sandy Cohen, a doctor of dental surgery, asks her patients who consult her for bruxism to fill out a medical questionnaire. “I find that I have many more patients taking antidepressants than I used to. » Among them, some are going through painful life events, such as separation, or trial periods such as university exams.

But other, more social factors also play a role in their anxiety levels. “I had a patient who explained to me that he no longer sleeps at night because of inflation. »

Work to do it yourself

Strictly speaking, there is no cure for bruxism, but there are ways to prevent further damage. While dentists may prescribe splints and muscle relaxants to relieve their patients, “sometimes it may be necessary to work on yourself,” estimates Priscillia Ziri, who sees “bruxism as a symptom of something.”

He also invites his patients to consult a physician if necessary. “I open the door but then, it’s not my responsibility. » Sandy Cohen explains to people who consult her that “anything that can reduce stress helps reduce bruxism”.

Relaxation, sophrology, yoga, breathing exercises… everyone has their own way of reducing stress. Morgan understood the root of her bruxism. “I had already suffered from anxiety-depressive disorder for five years, but this anxiety was very internal. » His dentist also explains to him that bruxism can be hereditary. “Talking to my parents, I learned that my father suffered a lot from it when he was young. »

For three years, Morgan has been sleeping with her splint on and, above all, she’s been treated for her anxiety-depressive disorder. “I rarely feel the pain I had before and my sleep and my quality of life have actually improved a lot. »

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