If your jaw is sore or your teeth are clenched tightly together when you wake up, you might suffer from sleep bruxism, the involuntary action of teeth grinding in your sleep. Often flying under the radar until significant oral health issues arise or a partner points it out, sleep bruxism is a condition that many unknowingly struggle with. To raise awareness about the sneaky problem, Designer Smiles By Benton wants to tell you all about sleep bruxism so you can protect your oral health!
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth. If you do this in your sleep, you might have sleep bruxism. While this sleep-related movement disorder is more prevalent among children, teenagers, and young adults, anyone can get it.
What’s So Bad About It?
Because most people don’t realize they’re grinding their teeth in their sleep, the symptoms (sore jaw, dull teeth, headaches, et cetera) can quickly worsen and produce newer, more serious issues.
- Tooth Damage: Continuous grinding can wear down the enamel, leading to tooth decay and chipping or cracking of the teeth.
- Tooth Pain and Sensitivity: As the enamel wears down, the underlying dentin can become exposed, increasing your sensitivity to sweet or sour foods and drinks and changes in temperature. Tooth decay and infections can also lead to pain.
- Jaw Pain and Disorders: Chronic clenching can strain the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), leading to TMJ disorders, which can cause pain and difficulty opening and closing the mouth.
- Headaches and Migraines: The strain from clenching and grinding can lead to tension-type headaches or migraines.
- Facial Pain: The muscles used for chewing can become sore and painful due to constant tension.
- Earaches: Although bruxism is not directly related to ear problems, the pain can radiate, leading to an earache sensation.
- Sleep Disruption: Teeth grinding can interrupt the sleep cycle, leading to poor sleep quality and fatigue during the day.
- Gum Recession: The pressure from grinding can cause the gums to recede, exposing more of the tooth’s root and leading to increased sensitivity.
- Loose or Shifted Teeth: Persistent grinding can loosen teeth or cause them to shift in the mouth.
- Damage to Dental Work: The pressure can damage or dislodge fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations.
- Flattened or Worn Tooth Surfaces: The constant grinding can change the bite and the shape of the teeth.
What Causes Sleep Bruxism?
Now that you know what teeth grinding in your sleep can cause, you’re probably wondering how it starts in the first place. Truthfully, the causes of bruxism are still not fully understood. However, many medical professionals believe that the following are likely sources.
- Physical Conditions: Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s or epilepsy, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), night terrors, ADHD, genetics, parasites, and more could cause bruxism.
- Sleep Disorders: People with sleep-related disorders are often more prone to grinding their teeth. For example, sleep apnea, a sleep disorder where breathing temporarily stops during sleep, can be linked to increased bruxism episodes.
- Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress, whether from work, personal relationships, or other life events, is a leading cause. In today’s fast-paced world, many individuals carry their daily tensions to bed, causing you to grind your teeth to release this nervous energy.
- Lifestyle Choices: Stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, especially when consumed in the hours leading up to bedtime, can heighten the risk. These substances can disrupt sleep and elevate anxiety levels, potentially leading to bruxism.
- Dental Concerns: Misaligned teeth or an abnormal bite can create an uneven pressure distribution during jaw movements. This imbalance can sometimes result in grinding as the jaw seeks a comfortable resting position.
- Medications: Some medications can have side effects that induce or worsen bruxism.
How Can You Prevent Or Treat Teeth Grinding In Your Sleep?
- Incorporating relaxation techniques to manage and reduce stress.
- Reducing the intake of stimulants like caffeine and alcohol (especially before bedtime).
- Establishing a regular sleep routine and creating a calming bedtime environment.
- Consulting your doctor(s) about adjusting your medications.
But these aren’t the only treatment options! Orthodontic care with Dr. Benton and Dr. Barry can also help! Because having improperly spaced teeth and jaws can produce or aggravate bruxism, Designer Smiles can provide relief by improving your alignments.
One of the most popular treatments for sleep bruxism is custom-made night guards or splints. Though mouthguards do not enhance your smile, these appliances fit over the teeth and protect the teeth from direct damage. They also help redistribute the force from grinding by creating a barrier between the upper and lower sets of teeth.
We are very proud to be able to offer the Pell City and Oxford communities the Damon traditional metal braces and aesthetic clear braces. Damon Braces offers a superior quality over its competitors, allowing our patients to receive effective care comfortably and quickly.
Lightforce Clear Braces
Like our Damon clear braces, Lightforce braces offer a cosmetic alternative to fixed braces. They both use tooth-colored brackets to create the illusion of clear braces for a subtle, discreet appearance. Unlike Damon clear braces, however, Lightforce brackets are 3D-printed with a custom design. Their customization means increased efficiency and comfort for you.
For patients who desire an almost invisible treatment device and flexibility in their lifestyle throughout treatment, clear aligners might be the way to go. Clear aligners are transparent, custom, removable trays that do not use brackets or wires! Designer Smiles offers Invisalign, Spark, and Boost clear aligners.
Achieve A Healthy, Happy Smile With Designer Smiles By Benton!
Orthodontic care can transform your life beyond relieving bruxism symptoms. Schedule a free consultation with us in Pell City or Oxford to discover what orthodontics can do for you. At your commitment-free appointment, you’ll learn which treatment options you qualify for and get a personalized treatment plan. Children, teens, and adults can seek treatment with us, so the whole family can be seen by orthodontists you trust at Designer Smiles by Benton.