Why Your Teeth Grind While Sleeping
Are you a teeth grinder or know someone who is? If so, you’re not alone, and most importantly, there are things you can do to stop teeth and jaw clenching.
Though teeth grinding can occur while awake, it most commonly occurs while sleeping. More formally named bruxism, teeth grinding is the third most frequent sleep disorder and occurs most frequently during non-REM stage 1 and non-REM stage 2 of your sleep cycle. People who grind their teeth are also more likely to have other sleep disorders like snoring or sleep apnea.
It is possible you’re a bruxist and don’t even know it. If you often wake up with headaches, earaches or facial pain, you may be grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw during sleep.
Aside from discomfort from the constant clenching, teeth grinding can lead to dental issues like jaw misalignment, wearing down, cracks or even breaks in the teeth.
So why do you do it? There are several reasons you may grind your teeth. Stress, anxiety, tension, the use of tobacco products, caffeine and antidepressants are just a few. But there may also be a medical disorder causing your bruxism like Parkinson’s, dementia and ADHD.
How To Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Figuring out how to stop your bruxist ways is important to your overall health and well-being. But you’re probably wondering how you can stop something you’re doing in your sleep when you’re not even aware you’re doing it. The good news is that there are several things you can do to help stop teeth grinding, and we’re here to guide you through it.
If you think you’re a teeth grinder or your dentist has mentioned it, you can proactively do something as simple as wearing a mouthguard at night. You can purchase these over-the-counter for as little as $10. If you’re looking for something with a more custom fit to your teeth, you’ll spend a bit more, but there are several options out there, including your dentist.
The standard over-the-counter mouthguards essentially create a plastic barrier between your teeth so that when you grind your teeth, you’re not grinding away at your tooth enamel or breaking teeth. The custom-fit guards usually provide a more personalized approach, some even shifting the jawline in a way that will keep you from clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth.
Mouth and jaw exercises are often recommended for someone with bruxism to treat the cause of the teeth grinding and the effects. These exercises are meant to bring awareness to the triggers that may be causing the teeth grinding or jaw clenching. For example, placing your tongue on the back of your top teeth or in the roof of your mouth can eliminate the ability to clench your jaw.
But what if you aren’t even sure if your jaw is clenched or not? One way to check is by purposely clenching your jaw then slowly relaxing the jaw and facial muscles until you can feel the jaw is relaxed.
For more severe bruxism, seeing a physical therapist may be a better choice.
Reduce Stress or Anxiety
Easier said than done, right? We know life can be hectic and stressful, and at times, stress carries over into your sleep. Are you a stress dreamer?
Whether your stress manifests while awake or asleep, there are things you can do to minimize stress in your life.
Do your best to identify the cause or causes of your stress and try to eliminate them. There may be things you can’t eliminate, though, and for those, it is important to relieve stress in other ways. Make exercise a habit to help manage stress. Whether it is yoga, HIIT, weight-lifting or just a good jog, exercise is an effective way to reduce the impacts of stress. We also recommend daily meditation to give you time to relax your mind and body each day.
Biofeedback is a much more advanced approach to mouth and jaw exercises. This method of stopping teeth grinding involves a biotherapist and teaching you to self-regulate in a way that allows you to voluntarily control things that you once perceived as involuntary. These previously involuntary things could be heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure and even teeth grinding.
This type of therapy is also used to treat migraines and other chronic pain.
You might think botox is only for those wishing to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles, but we’ve got news for you. Botox has been proven to reduce the frequency of teeth grinding in adults and the pain associated with grinding and clenching.
Botox is done in the form of injections and must be done by a medical professional. The good news is that the injections are known to be effective for several months, which also leads us to the bad news: botox isn’t a cure for teeth grinding but instead a way to reduce it while injections are active.
If your teeth are misaligned, or your bite is unlevel, that may be the cause of your bruxism. In this case, a dental procedure can be done to align or level out your bite. During this procedure, the dentist may reduce your teeth height or shape to improve your bite. This must be done very carefully by a dental professional but may eliminate your teeth grinding.
Side Effects of Teeth Grinding
It is important to know that if bruxism goes unresolved, it may result in a wide variety of not-so-pleasant issues. Here are a few:
- Facial pain
- Ear pain
- Teeth pain
- Loosened teeth
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Muscle enlargement in the face
- Temporomandibular joint disorders like TMJ
Should You Seek Medical Help For Bruxism?
If you are aware of your bruxism, it is best to seek help. Seeking help from a medical professional right off the bat might save you some time and hassle trying the wrong things. If your issue is caused by something like a misaligned bite, other techniques you try that do not resolve that will be fruitless.
Make an appointment with your dentist or plan to discuss it at your next visit. This will enable you to come up with a plan that will be effective.