Over the years, researchers have been trying to track down the causes of sleep bruxism , the clenching and grinding of teeth during sleep. Some research has attributed the disorder to high levels of daytime stress. Others have posited that it may even result from use of certain prescriptions. But despite continued research, we still don’t have a complete understanding of the cause of this common sleep-related movement disorder.

And while clenching your teeth at night might not sound too bad, sleep bruxism has been known to chip, crack, or wear down teeth. Even worse, it can also lead to TMJ, which can in turn result in painful symptoms throughout the entire body.

We still aren’t sure exactly what causes sleep bruxism. However, the ideas that studies have hypothesized over the years can help suggest certain changes to routine that can protect you from the damage sleep bruxism can do. One new study tackled some potential causes that are, for many of us, essential parts of our daily routines.

Are You Drinking Your Way to Sleep Bruxism?

A new study tried to identify whether or not there is a connection between sleep bruxism and tobacco, coffee, alcohol, or drug use. Using questionnaires, clinical assessment, and polysomnography, researchers were able to identify some telling connections.

When it came to alcohol use and tobacco use, the results were clear. Sleep bruxism had a definite association with both drinking alcohol and smoking. In fact, regular smokers and drinkers were twice as likely to suffer from sleep bruxism as non-drinkers and non-smokers. Coffee had a slightly weaker connection, though still notable: Heavy coffee drinkers were 1.5 times more likely to experience sleep bruxism than others.

And although the average person is more likely to have a coffee addiction than an ecstasy addiction, researchers looked into that as well. The studies on MDMA failed to show a correlation between use of the drug and sleep bruxism.

Causal, or Just Correlated?

Of course, while researchers were able to definitively identify a connection between these habits and sleep bruxism, it’s still unknown if that relationship is causal. There could be other factors that tie smoking, drinking alcohol or coffee, or drug use to sleep bruxism. For example, the causal factor could be stress, which leads to smoking and alcohol use.

But until we know for sure, reducing or eliminating these habits could have an impact on your symptoms.

The longer sleep bruxism continues, the more damage your teeth will sustain. While Dr. Adam Hahn can treat worn or chipped teeth, the best option is to keep your teeth safe in the first place!

Protect your teeth from nighttime wear and tear. Call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry online today to discuss sleep bruxism with your dentist and ensure you’re doing everything you can.