While you might find yourself grinding your teeth as you concentrate at work or carry something heavy, did you know you can do it sub-consciously while you sleep as well? Grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism to dentists, is when you clench your jaw together and put force on your teeth while rubbing them against each other. While you might be able to control it when you’re awake, it’s a little more complicated while you are sleeping.
How Do You Know You Grind Your Teeth in Your Sleep?
Because you’re asleep, you’re not going to know you’re a sufferer of bruxism. However, there are a few telling signs of which you might like to be made aware. If you wake up with a headache, a sore jaw, your mouth muscles are aching, your ears hurt or you’re feeling stiff around your face, neck, or shoulders, then you could be grinding your teeth in your sleep.
What’s more, a trip to the dentist can also show that your teeth are affected by your teeth grinding. Your dentist might spot some abnormal wear, some teeth might be fractured, and some might even be on the brink of falling out. Bruxism can be quite damaging to your teeth and jaw.
Why Do You Grind Your Teeth?
There are many theories surrounding why some people suffer from bruxism, but the evidence is quite limited. According to the Bruxism Association, if you’re a smoker, a drinker, you consume a lot of caffeine or have a sleeping disorder, you may be more prone to teeth grinding. What’s more, if you’re stressed or anxious, there might be a link there as well.
What Treatment Options Are Available?
Once you know you grind your teeth in your sleep – whether it be through your own diagnosis or that of your dentist, it’s time to make a plan of action. This plan can often depend on the cause. To begin a treatment plan, your dentist will carry out an exam to find out which will be the best way forward.
The most common treatment method is a bite guard, also known as an occlusal appliance. This device is made especially for your mouth and sits on your top or bottom teeth while you sleep. The goal of a bite guard is to reduce muscle pain while protecting your teeth at the same time.
If you have a sleep disorder which causes you to grind your teeth, a mandibular device might be the best option for you. Like the bite guard, it sits on your bottom and top teeth and brings your bottom jaw forward. While it helps to protect your teeth and reduce muscle fatigue, it also helps to manage snoring and sleep apnea as well.
If you’re waking up with a sore mouth, headache, or other related symptoms, it’s time to take action. Teeth grinding can have a significant impact on your teeth so it’s crucial to see a dentist before the problem gets worse.