If you wake up every day with sore and fatigued jaw muscles and aching teeth, it may be because you have a habit of tooth grinding during sleep. Scientifically known as bruxism, this condition is not only dangerous for your teeth but also indicates an underlying problem with your dental or physical health.
Why Do I Grind My Teeth In My Sleep?
According to the Bruxism Association, there are various causes of tooth grinding.
- Stress and Anxiety – perhaps, the most common reason for bruxism is stress and anxiety. People often find themselves grinding their teeth during exam days due to increased stress.
- Sleep Disorders – according to the American Sleep Association, bruxism can also be caused due to various sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnoea. In this condition, breathing during sleep is interrupted frequently, which affects the quality of sleep and leads to tooth grinding.
- Lifestyle Habits – people who smoke or drink alcohol often grind their teeth, either during the day or while sleeping. Excessive caffeine intake has also been linked with bruxism.
- Medications – brxusim can also results as side effect of certain medications, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
- Genetic Predisposition – research has shown that bruxism also runs in families. It is commonly seen that people with bruxism often have close relatives or family members that are also suffering from the same condition.
What Problems Can Result From Grinding Teeth?
The habit of excessive tooth grinding can lead to various problems.
- Tooth Wear – one of the most common complications of bruxism is tooth wear. As you grind your teeth, a thin layer of the outer protective enamel is removed; ultimately, the entire enamel layer is lost, leaving the tooth vulnerable to teeth cavities. Not only this, the loss of enamel makes the teeth sensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks.
- Temporomandibular Joints Problems – tooth grinding puts excessive pressure on your jaw joints, leading to various complications like clicking or popping sounds while opening or closing the mouth, and even jaw joint dislocation.
- Headaches – constant tooth grinding puts a lot of pressure on the face and jaw muscles, leading to spasms and headaches.
- Tooth sensitivity – excessive grinding damages the outer protective layer of the teeth, which can cause sensitivity to hot or cold foods.
Jaw Clenching While Awake, What Can I Do?
Management of bruxism involves treating the underlying cause. If you feel that you or a loved one grinds their teeth, take them to a dentist immediately. Your dentist will identify the underlying cause and then recommend the appropriate treatment. Sometimes, treating bruxism involves a team effort by your dentist, healthcare specialist or psychiatrist.
What Are The Symptoms Of Bruxism?
Bruxism can cause a variety of problems. The sleep foundation highlights the following symptoms of daytime or sleep bruxism:
- Jaw soreness
- Loose or painful teeth
- Flattened teeth
- Jaw pain
- Difficulty in opening or closing mouth
- Frequent jaw dislocation
- Sensitive teeth
Perhaps, the most harmful consequence of tooth grinding is the flattening of teeth. When the teeth are flattened, they cannot effectively cut the food we eat into smaller pieces so that it can be digested properly. This can lead to various medical condition like indigestion, heartburn, and other gastric issues.
What Is The Treatment For Teeth Grinding?
According to the Sleep Foundation, there is no treatment currently available that can completely cure bruxism. However, there are several approaches available that can reduce its frequency and damage to one’s oral health.
The first step in the management of bruxism is identifying the underlying cause. If it is because of stress, it will be managed through psychological treatment. Your dentist may also inject a botox injection for facial muscle relaxation. Similarly, if the underlying cause is a sleep disorder, your dentist will refer you to a sleep medicine specialist for further treatment.
For other medical-related reasons, your dentist will refer you to your physician. Your dentist will give you a mouthguard to protect your teeth and jaw joints from damage while your treatment is being done. A mouthguard is an appliance that prevents the teeth from excessive wear while grinding.
Mouthguard For Teeth Grinding?
Your dentist may give you a mouthguards, also called night guards, if you grind your teeth. According to the Bruxism Association, a mouthguard is a removable appliance, just like a retainer, worn to prevent the teeth from damage due to excessive grinding. In some cases, dentists also prescribe mandibular advancement devices (MAD). These devices work by keeping the lower jaw in a slightly forward position – thereby preventing jaw clenchign and tooth grinding. After a thorough examination, your dentist will recommend an mouthguard or a mandibular splint, depending on the severity of your condition and individual dental needs.
Teething grinding is a severe problem that can lead to many dental and medical complications. However, timely diagnosis and dental care can go a long way in minimising the damages associated with this problem. If you, or a loved suffers from night or daytime bruxism, you should take them to a dentist right away.
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All articles are either written by, or content checked by an ex-General Dental Council (retired) registrant. Information in these articles should not be taken as dental advice and are for general information only, you should always seek advice of your local dentist, if you do not have a local dentist you might like to search our register.