Bruxism: Are Your Teeth Working Overtime, While You Sleep?

Bruxism: Are Your Teeth Working Overtime, While You Sleep?

Even if you practice stellar oral hygiene while you’re awake, brushing and flossing like a superstar, your teeth could still be at risk of damage in the night.

The Teeth Thief That Comes in the Night — It’s Not the Tooth Fairy

Sleep bruxism (not awake bruxism, which occurs during waking hours) is a condition that causes individuals to grind their teeth and clench their jaws, while they doze, otherwise, peacefully. As teeth grind and press against each other, their enamel and structure wear down. Individuals with night bruxism wind up with several hours of extra wear and tear on their teeth every time they fall asleep.

This extra wear can lead to a whole host of long-term consequences, such as:

  • Degradation of teeth
  • Cracks and fractures
  • Extreme sensitivity to temperature and pressure
  • Chronic pain
  • Damage to artificial teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Damage to the temporomandibular joints (TMJ)

What Causes Night Bruxism?

The most common cause of night bruxism is stress, but the exact causes or reasons people develop bruxism aren’t entirely understood. For example, not everyone who’s stressed out grinds their teeth or clenches their jaw at night. Bruxism seems to be caused by combination of factors which include stress, but can also be aggravated by having an abnormal bite or a sleep disorder. Bruxism also seems to have a genetic component, as it tends to run in families.

Signs and Symptoms of Night Bruxism

If you don’t realize you’re suffering from night bruxism, no one will blame you. After all, you are asleep, far away in dreamland, when it occurs. Night bruxism, however, does cause some signs and symptoms that you might notice when you’re awake. These include:

  • Waking up with tender, sore, or stiff jaw muscles
  • Toothache or earache-like symptoms
  • Tension headaches
  • Odd patterns of wear and tear on teeth

What You Can Do to Relieve Bruxism

Taking measures to relieve stress can help reduce night bruxism. Get plenty of exercise, use a warm compress to relax your jaw muscles before bed, meditate, go for walks, or relax in the bath.

Schedule a Teeth Grinding Consultation with Cardinal Dental

If you suspect your teeth are staying up after you’ve gone to bed early, we recommend scheduling an appointment with Cardinal Dental. Our dentist can provide you with solutions, like a custom-fitted mouth guard, to reduce the damaging consequences of nighttime grinding. Plus, we can help you with treatments to restore extensive damage and reduce any extra sensitivity that has occurred due to grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw at night. For more information about bruxism or to schedule an appointment, we welcome you to contact our office today.