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Grinding Teeth?

Perhaps It's Your Meds

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Updated July 03, 2009

by Kimberly Read

Do you grind your teeth or clench your jaws? Perhaps you are struggling with bruxism, which is the medical term for the usually unconscious behavior of grinding teeth. Frustration, stress, tension, anxiety, and suppressed anger are usually considered the culprits causing this problem. However, grinding teeth can also be attributed to some medications. In an article about drug-induced bruxism, Olanrewaju Obisesan writes, "Some psychotropics, such as drugs in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), antipsychotic, and general antidepressant classes, have been implicated in inducing this condition as a secondary side effect in patients taking these medications" (2005).

Potentially Problematic Medications (Obisesan, 2005)

Symptoms of grinding teeth (MayoClinic, 2005 & Obisesan, 2005)

  • Damage to teeth such as worn enamel, chips, and flattened tops
  • Teeth that are oversensitive to cold or pressure
  • Morning headaches
  • Pain in the jaw or face
  • Earaches
  • Chewed places on the tongue or cheek

Treatment

In that teeth grinding has predominantly been viewed as a stress response, treatment has focused on alleviating the anxiety through stress management and behavior modification. Dental interventions such as mouth guards are also quite common (MayoClinic, 2005). However, research is now indicating that some medications are effective in reducing teeth grinding. These medications, which include BuSpar (buspirone), Inderal (Propranolol), Neurontin (gabapentin), and BoTox (botulinum toxin), can be used as the primary treatment for grinding teeth not caused by a medication (Obisesan, 2005). They are also effective as an add-on treatment when drugs are causing the problem.

If you have the symptoms of bruxism, please discuss your options with your health care providers. You do not have to live with the pain or problems associated with grinding teeth.

References

MayClinic. (2005). Bruxism/Teeth Grinding

Obisesan, O. (2005). Drug-Induced Bruxism

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