It’s not always easy (or possible) to control what you do while you sleep. While there are many nightly habits that are harmless, there are also some that need to be addressed. When it comes oral habits, teeth grinding is one of the most prevalent nighttime habits. If you unknowingly grind or clench your teeth at night, you may end up with dental issues along with some disruptive symptoms during the day.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism refers to the act of grinding your teeth from side to side or clenching your jaw and teeth. If bruxism is performed on a frequent basis, your teeth, jaw joint and surrounding muscles don’t go unscathed. To understand the severity of your bruxism habit, you should know that chewing exerts 20 to 40 pounds on the teeth, but the pressure from grinding can be 250 pounds or more!
Are You a Grinder?
Teeth grinding is hard to control during nighttime slumber because we aren’t always aware of what we do when we sleep. Therefore, many patients have to look at daytime symptoms to determine if they are nighttime teeth grinder (or clencher). Can you identify with the following:
- The sound of teeth grinding keeps your bed partner awake
- Your teeth that are worn down (flattened), fractured, chipped or loose
- Thin enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth (discoloration and sensitivity)
- Increased tooth pain
- Fatigued or tight jaw muscles
- Jaw popping or clicking
- Ear, neck or facial pain/soreness
- Dull headache (especially around the temples)
- Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
- Disrupted sleep
Are You at Risk?
If you are experiencing some of the daytime symptoms and want to effectively address your teeth grinding habit, it can be important to determine why you are engaging in this oral habit. While it is not always possible to determine the root cause of your bruxism, the following risk factors must be considered:
- Stress (prevalent during times of increased anxiety/stress)
- Age (common in young children)
- Personality (aggressive, hyper or competitive are prone to bruxism)
- Medications/Substances (possible result of antidepressants, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine)
- Family History of Bruxism
- Health Disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, GERD epilepsy, sleep apnea, and ADHD).
What Your Dentist Can Do
Fortunately, you don’t have to stay awake all night to prevent teeth grinding and its consequences. Custom nightguards are the most common method of treating bruxism while you sleep. These are comfortable and professional-grade mouthpieces that protect your teeth and jaw from the excessive strain of nightly teeth grinding and/or teeth clenching. Tejal A. Kakade, DMD, FAGD, PC, proudly treats teeth grinding. We make it a priority to get to the root of the problem as well as provide treatment that is effective and long-lasting. Addressing this oral habit can help you avoid headaches, TMJ pain and costly dental damage. A custom mouthguard becomes a small price to pay for a healthier night’s sleep! Call Dr. Tejal today to schedule you consult.