Did you know that a sleeping person doesn’t realize their biting strength and can exert about 250 pounds of force when grinding or clenching their teeth? That’s a lot of force for your poor teeth to encounter on a nightly basis. This condition called sleep bruxism is one that both children and adults experience and can cause severe damage to your teeth if not taken care of. There might be many reasons you are grinding your teeth in sleep. An easy way to protect your teeth from the harms and abuses of bruxism is to wear nightguards. Keep reading to find out more!
What Is Sleep Bruxism?
Sleep bruxism is grinding your teeth in sleep. Grinding your teeth while awake is called bruxism and is quite distinct from sleep bruxism. The problem with sleep bruxism is that most people are quite unaware that they are grinding their teeth at night, and might be surprised to realize that they have such an unusual nightly habit.
Interestingly enough, sleep bruxism is most common in children and gets less so as children grow into adolescents and adults.
Teeth Grinding Symptoms
The main symptom that you need to be aware of is the involuntary clenching and grinding of teeth during nighttime. It might resemble the movement you make when chewing your food, but it’s much more forceful.
The interesting thing about sleep bruxism is that people who suffer from it do not clench or grind their teeth throughout the night. In fact, it goes through cycles of clenching and grinding their teeth and then of being relaxed. These episodes might happen throughout the night.
Also, people with sleep bruxism do not have episodes of teeth grinding every night.
The main way that you know that you grind your teeth at night is when you wake up with jaw pain or neck pain. As you spend so much of your night in a state of extreme tension, it can result in the tightening of the muscles of the jaw and neck. You might also feel pain in your teeth as they are sore from the nightly routine.
You could also suffer from ringing in the ears. And tension headaches from the constant grinding and clenching can result as well.
If you have these teeth grinding symptoms, it’s easy to check if you grind your teeth. Go to a mirror and see if your teeth display any signs of teeth grinding. Are your teeth worn down or do they have sharp ends?
Also, run your fingers up and down the edge of your teeth – do you notice any chips, fractures, or raggedness along the edges?
These are all signs that you need to visit a dentist asap and get yourself fitted with a nightguard.
Consequences of Sleep Bruxism
As you might imagine, your teeth will suffer greatly if you don’t do something about your nightly clenching and grinding habit. Sleep bruxism causes significant harm to your teeth, eroding them, and loosening them up.
If you have dental crowns, implants, or fillings, they can become loose as well.
The joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be severely affected as well. It might result in chronic jaw pain, difficulty chewing and eating, popping or clicking noises, and locking of the jaw.
Your nightly teeth grinding can also affect your partner’s sleep as they might stay awake listening to your noisy habit.
Of course, sleep bruxism will have varying effects on people depending on the severity of the grinding and the alignment of your teeth. The best thing to do when you know you grind your teeth is to go to your dentist for a consultation and get fitted for a nightguard.
Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
You might be wondering why people grind their teeth. There are a host of reasons for it, but stress seems to be the most common explanation. If you have high levels of anxiety, you might be more susceptible to teeth grinding. There are certain risk factors as well that can exacerbate sleep bruxism.
Sleep bruxism is considered to have a genetic factor and can run in families.
It has also been connected to sleep apnea, cigarette smoking, depression, caffeine intake, alcohol consumption, and snoring. Of course, every individual is going to be different in the factors that affect or exacerbate their teeth grinding habit.
How to Stop Grinding Teeth
No treatment can eliminate teeth grinding during sleep. But you can limit the damage to your teeth by wearing a nightguard.
The way a nightguard (or mouthguard) works is by putting a barrier between your back teeth so your teeth can’t grind against each other and wear each other down. This also reduces the pressure that you place in your nightly teeth grinding habit upon your poor teeth.
The ideal way for you to get a nightguard for yourself is by consulting a dentist. Once they diagnose sleep bruxism, they can take a mold of your mouth and create a nightguard made particularly for your teeth and jaw. This way you will be protected from further damage to your teeth and will protect your beautiful smile for a long time to come.
Of course, they will also advise you to reduce the stress and anxiety in your life and stop any bad habits, like smoking, drinking alcohol, or coffee late at night. Increasing sleep hygiene is extremely important when trying to reduce your teeth grinding habit.
Nightguards Are a Great Solution to Sleep Bruxism
Now that you know more about sleep bruxism, you are ready to explore the world of nightguards. They are an easy and cheap solution to protecting your teeth from your nightly escapades. If you don’t wear your nightguard nightly, it could result in bigger problems in the future that could drain you of thousands of dollars and take days or weeks of treatment.
Contact Toothologie, a Smile Studio, to set up a consultation about your teeth grinding habit today.