New research suggests that sometimes teeth grinding (bruxism) may be linked to a parasitic infection though it is unclear what the exact cause and effect mechanisms are.
Parasite infections go hand-in-hand with many things, like nutrient deficiencies and food sensitivities. So, they can put stress on the body, and teeth grinding is frequently linked to stress. Parasites also have a significant effect on the gut, which connects to the brain via the vagus nerve. So, there’s a possibility that toxins created by infections can affect signaling to the brain.
In any case, if you are grinding your teeth (or suspect that you are), it’s important to consider whether you might have an underlying infection.
What parasites can cause teeth grinding?
Many parasites are linked with teeth grinding, including pinworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia lamblia, and dientamoeba fragilis. But there are other possible culprits as well.
Some of these parasites are fairly easy to get, especially if you go swimming in natural lakes, have a pet that may have parasites, eat raw or undercooked fish or meat, live or travel to places where you can get bitten by insects that carry parasites, or do work in a garden.
Additionally, children are even more prone to infections than adults, and the two parasites that show up most frequently in children are enterobius vermicularis (pinworm), usually from eating with unclean hands or biting fingernails, and giardia lamblia, often contracted from accidentally ingesting contaminated water.
Get tested to know whether you have an infection.
Other than bruxism, parasites can cause a number of problems, including diarrhea, indigestion, malnutrition, weight loss, frequent hunger, and anemia, as well as irritability, anxiety, and insomnia. So, if you’re grinding your teeth and experiencing any of these additional issues, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis.
For infections in children, you will want to look for these symptoms and talk to other parents about possible symptoms and spread. Secondary infections can also occur, which can confuse the process of diagnosis.
To make things more challenging, testing results can vary depending on the current life cycle of some parasites. So, you may need to get tested more than once to get a reliable result. And sometimes symptoms alone are enough for a doctor to prescribe treatment when a positive result proves elusive but infection seems likely.
Treatments can vary.
Treatment usually involves medication (often antibiotics), sometimes multiple kinds at once, and may also require changes in diet and lifestyle for a time.
Additionally, if you are also grinding your teeth, you will want to take precautionary steps to protect your teeth at the same time. Your dentist may recommend that you wear a night guard while you sleep. Night guards are mouthpieces that fit over your teeth and prevent them from crashing into or rubbing against each other with your clench or move your jaw.
For more severe cases of teeth grinding, your dentist may recommend a night guard in addition to broader treatment methods, which can include stress relief practices and orthodontic treatments for any underlying alignment or dental issues.
And, of course, if your bruxism is mainly due to a parasitic infection, then treating that infection will do wonders.
Find an affordable night guard.
You can purchase a night guard through your dentist, which is the most common way to get a custom-made device. Custom-made is definitely the best choice for fit and effectiveness. However, a dentist isn’t the only option when it comes to getting a good night guard fitted.
At TeethNightGuard, we make the option of a custom guard affordable by creating a kit with which you can make your own mold at home. You will then send in the mold to our U.S.-based facility where your night guard will be manufactured just the way it would be for a dentist’s office.
Best of all, you can easily get replacements as needed (it’s usually recommended to replace your night guard every six months). And you can choose the flexibility of the materials for your guard. With aggressive grinding, denser plastic will last longer. But if you’re looking for comfort and an easier transition to wearing a night guard, choose a thinner and more flexible material.
How to avoid parasite infections in the future.
There are a few things you can do to avoid getting parasites. First, practice good personal and culinary hygiene. This means washing your hands regularly (and always after using the restroom), cleaning food surfaces, handling raw meat and fish with care, and avoiding contact with possibly contaminated water or food.
You should also be mindful when in contact with animals, especially if they are sick or go outdoors often. Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning litter boxes and pet enclosures.
When you spend time outdoors, camping or backpacking, always filter the water you drink, wear bug spray, and don’t put your head under the water if you go swimming in lakes or streams. And, if you’re looking out for children, pay attention to whether they purposefully or accidentally ingest any water or dirt while playing.
Most of all, be sure to schedule regular checkups with your doctor or pediatrician because, even if you take precautions and maintain excellent hygiene, it is still possible to get certain parasites.
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