If you are clenching or grinding your teeth at night, it may be due to the medications you have been prescribed. Some medications may lead to an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain that can cause you to clench or grind your jaw excessively at night. This can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and jaw joint damage that can lead to worsening temporomandibular jaw joint disorder (TMJ).
Antidepressants Are the Most Common Cause
Antidepressants are one of the most prescribed drugs in the US. Although the availability of generic alternatives has knocked these blockbusters from the top 10 in terms of sales, they remain among the most commonly taken drugs, with nearly 11% of Americans taking them.
Several types of antidepressants have been linked to bruxism, including SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and their relatives and generic alternatives. SSNRIs (Selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) like Cymbalta have also been associated with bruxism, though less commonly. In rare cases, lithium is sometimes associated with bruxism.
There are several drugs that affect dopamine levels in the brain. These include drugs that are intended to treat Parkinson’s disease, like L-Dopa, and metoclopramide, which is used to treat acid reflux, slow emptying of the stomach, and migraines.
Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is a drug commonly used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and can lead to an increased risk of bruxism.
Treating Drug-Related Bruxism
Because this type of bruxism is caused by changes in brain chemistry, altering brain chemistry further is often the only way to treat it. Unfortunately, it’s often not enough to simply stop using the drug that caused your bruxism. You may need to take another drug to control the bruxism.
Sometimes, though, a bite splint can help stabilize your jaw, reduce immediate symptoms, and reduce damage from your bruxism.