Do you grind your teeth at night? Many adults and children experience temporary teeth grinding, known as bruxism when they are under high amounts of stress. Bruxism is usually temporary and dissipates as soon as your stress levels decrease. However, if you have chronic teeth grinding, it could be a sign of a more serious medical or dental problem, and it can severely damage your teeth.
Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
Teeth grinding can have several causes. The most common cause is high levels of stress and anxiety. Bruxism can also be caused by certain dental problems, like an abnormal bite, crooked teeth or missing teeth. You may also develop bruxism if you have sleep apnea, smoke or drink alcohol.
Dental Hazards of Teeth Grinding
When you grind your teeth, you forcefully clench and rub your top and bottom teeth together, which causes an increase in wear and tear. This increased wear and tear can result in loose, chipped and cracked teeth as well as the slow grinding down of your teeth. If you incur enough tooth damage, you could require a root canal, crowns or implants. In severe cases, you may have to resort to dentures.
Differences Between Day and Night Teeth Grinding
Individuals may experience teeth grinding at night or during the day. Daytime teeth grinding is easier to spot than night time grinding because you are awake and can consciously control the condition. At night, you are unaware because you are asleep.
- Daytime Teeth Grinding – Daytime teeth grinding can be a recurring problem. It is commonly experienced during times of high concentration when you are under a large amount of stress or extremely upset or angry. While you may not notice that you are grinding your teeth right away, once you do realize you have daytime bruxism, you can focus on relaxing your jaw and preventing the habit.
- Nighttime Teeth Grinding – Bruxism that occurs at night is harder to spot. Your partner or family members may notice your teeth grinding before you realize you have a problem because they will hear you grinding your teeth while you sleep.
Signs and Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
Grinding your teeth at night can lead to noticeable symptoms when you first wake-up in the morning or at other times throughout the day. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of Bruxism:
- Morning Headaches
- Stiff, Painful or Tired Jaw Muscles
- Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
- Visibly Damaged Teeth, Including Cracks and Chips
Teeth Grinding Solutions
There are several teeth grinding solutions available to help you avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth, depending on the cause of your bruxism. If your teeth grinding is caused by excessive stress, you may want to start an exercise program designed to relieve stress, stop consuming caffeinated drinks before bed and avoid alcohol.
- How to Stop Grinding Teeth During the Day – If you notice you are grinding your teeth during the day, you should stretch your jaw muscles in an attempt to relax them. You can also place your tongue between your upper and lower teeth to help your jaw muscles relax and prevent daytime teeth grinding.
- How to Stop Teeth Grinding at Night – Stopping the habit of grinding your teeth at night is more difficult than during the day. Thankfully, there are dental products, such as mouth guards, that can help reduce your teeth grinding and prevent damage to your teeth. Your family dentist may be able to offer other suggestions to help alleviate grinding your teeth while asleep.
Choosing a Dental Mouth Guard for Grinding Teeth
Once of the most common solutions for nighttime bruxism is a dental mouth guard for teeth grinding. This small dental appliance fits over the top or bottom teeth to prevent tooth damage and muscle soreness.
While these devices are available over the counter, it’s best to consult with a dentist who can provide you with a custom-fitted mouth guard. When you have a mouth guard designed for you, it is more comfortable to wear and provides better protection because it is less likely to slip or move while you sleep.
While most mouth guards are fitted over the upper teeth, previous dental work, like bridges and braces, may indicate the need for mouth guard on the lower teeth or mouth guards for both your upper and lower teeth. Your dentist can help you decide where to appropriate mouth guard solution needed for you to reduce symptoms and prevent tooth damage.
Triangle Dentistry located in Raleigh, NC provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns and implants to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3592.