What is teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding is a common sleep disorder in which you grind or clench your teeth while sleeping. Also called bruxism, it is most commonly the result of crooked teeth, an abnormal bite, or stress and anxiety. People who grind their teeth regularly may need bruxism treatment since they can experience oral health complications and other sleep disorders including snoring and interrupted breathing.
What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?
- Aching jaw muscles and stiff shoulders
- Facial myalgia
- Cuts on the inside of your cheek from chewing
- Worn, flattened and loose teeth
- Pain and sensitivity in teeth
- Locked jaw
- Frequent sleep disruption
These are a few common symptoms of teeth grinding. However, people who haven’t noticed these symptoms have reported being told that they grind teeth while sleeping.
Why do people grind their teeth?
- Incorrect bite and missing or crooked teeth
- A hyperactive or aggressive personality
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
- Side effects of certain medication
- Heavy alcohol
- Excessive caffeine
- Snoring and breathing pauses
- A family history of bruxism
- Mental health disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Dementia, etc.
Moreover, the wrong choice of lifestyle is what causes teeth grinding. Your everyday activities have a major role to play in your vulnerability to bruxism. Unhealthy habits and pre-existing sleep disorders highly influence the motor neurons of bruxism. Hence, the rate of success of teeth clenching treatment also depends on the kind of life a patient leads.
Also, it has been proven that people dealing with stress at work or in their personal lives are more susceptible to this sleep disorder.
According to the Bruxism Association, stress and anxiety is the main cause of teeth grinding in 70% cases.
Why is grinding teeth at night harmful?
Severe teeth clenching or grinding can:
- Wear out your teeth and loosen them.
- Cause frequent, severe headaches.
- Cause Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD/TMJ).
- Change your facial appearance.
- Cause earache.
- Lead to sleep disruption which can cause anger and frustration.
- Inflate gums and cause irritation.
- Limit opening of the mouth.
Although mild bruxism can go unnoticed, severe teeth grinding habits can lead to serious health issues. The most affected is your teeth. Sometimes, teeth grinding wears the teeth so much that the patients require root canals, crowns, bridges, implants, or dentures. Hence, if you notice yourself clenching teeth while sleeping, take some preventive actions or see your dentist who will fix you for proper bruxism treatment.
How to stop grinding teeth?
You can stop grinding teeth in sleep with professional help.
- Go for bruxism treatment. Have your dentist examine your situation and develop a customized treatment plan.Your dentist will analyze your smile and custom create a TMJ guard that would fit over your top and bottom teeth perfectly. It is made of plastic or acrylic and is commonly known as mouthguard, bite plate, night guard, and bruxism guard. This dental guard is worn before going to bed to protect both the teeth and the temporomandibular joint while sleeping.
- If your problem of teeth grinding is due to anxiety or stress, then you must opt for behavioral counseling. You can try out various relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, psychoanalysis, etc. to manage your anxiety. Hypnosis has also been found helpful for people with teeth clenching disorder.
- You can try out the combination of the mouthguard and mental relaxation therapies. Combining the treatments can give quick results.
- If the reason you grind teeth is crooked or misaligned teeth, then you must consider getting orthodontic treatment. Not only will straight teeth significantly help in this situation, but you will also get a more beautiful and confident smile. And feeling good about yourself has proven to help people with anxiety disorders feel calm and relaxed.
How to prevent teeth grinding?
- Take a warm shower before bed to relax the jaw muscles. If not a shower, you can wring out a cloth soaked in warm water and apply it to the aching jaw.
- Anxiety causes teeth grinding, so do something to calm down right before going to sleep. For example, you can read a book or listen to some soothing music.
- Try to stay aware of whether you clench your teeth during the day. If you find yourself clenching teeth, try to concentrate on keeping your lips closed with upper and lower teeth apart.
- Rub your jaws gently to relax the tense muscles.
- Alcohol and caffeine aggravate grinding. So avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine in excessive amounts.
- Avoid chewy foods like gums, popcorn, steak, etc. if you have teeth-grinding problem.The less you chew during the day, the better you will be able to sleep at night.
- Don’t gnaw on pens or pencils. Chewing on hard non-food items can develop in you the habit of grinding teeth in sleep.
Grinding teeth while sleeping can lead to serious dental problems since it weakens the teeth as well as the gums. People with long-standing grinding and clenching problems often end up with damaged and worn out teeth enamel, sensitivity, aches, and eventually frustration. So, consult an expert before the damage is irreversible.
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