There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to refresh and revive you for a new day. Quality sleep can have many positive effects on your overall health. However, if you’re grinding your teeth at night, you could be unconsciously wearing away at the quality of your sleep – and your life.
How can you know if you’re grinding your teeth at night? What are some of the short- and long-term effects of teeth grinding (also referred to as bruxism)? And what can you do to prevent these negative effects? Read on to learn how to alleviate and prevent nighttime teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding: Signs and symptoms
According to the American Sleep Association, 10% of adults and 15% of children grind their teeth at night. But how can you know if you’re grinding during sleep? Here are a few signs to look for:
- Waking up with a sore jaw or facial pain.
- Clicking or popping in the jaw joints.
- Chronic, dull headaches.
- Noise – your sleep partner may hear you grinding throughout the night.
- Tooth wear – your dentist can identify the signs of nighttime bruxism during your routine dental checkup.
What causes nighttime teeth grinding? It can have many potential causes, including stress and anxiety, a misaligned bite, or even a sleep disorder.
Is teeth grinding really that serious?
Over time, teeth grinding can have serious, painful, long-term negative effects on your health. Severe chronic bruxism could eventually result in chipped, cracked, or even loosened teeth. Damaging your teeth in this way could mean you’ll need expensive dental treatments later on as a result.
Besides the possibility that you could damage or lose teeth later on, you could also experience painful effects of TMD (temporomandibular disorder) if nighttime bruxism is left untreated.
What can be done to prevent nighttime teeth grinding?
The first step to treating grinding and preventing further damage is to visit your dentist. Your dentist can assess the seriousness of your grinding habit, what damage has already been done, and if additional testing is needed to determine if you have a serious sleep disorder.
A custom night guard may be recommended to help prevent grinding. A night guard is a plastic custom-fitted oral appliance that you’d wear while sleeping to prevent clenching and grinding. A professionally made custom-fitted night guard is comfortable and easier to wear than store-bought, ill-fitting mouth guards.
Other ways to minimize the painful effects of teeth grinding include:
- Stress relief. If stress or anxiety is contributing to your teeth grinding, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce stress in your daily life.
- Limit consumption of caffeine and/or alcohol; both have been shown to contribute to clenching and grinding.
- Avoid chewing gum during the day.
In conclusion, nighttime teeth grinding doesn’t have to wear you down. If you suspect you might be grinding your teeth at night, visit your dentist to assess the situation and discuss whether a custom night guard could help. We’d like to help bring your bruxism to a grinding halt!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.