Do you wake up with a sore jaw some days? If you do, you may be like a lot of people who suffer from regular jaw clenching or teeth grinding while you sleep. The condition is known as bruxism, and although it’s not the easiest condition to treat, your dentist can likely help you find a solution to your night grinding.
Research shows that bruxism has its origins in the central nervous system, as neural responses cause you to tighten your jaw or clench your teeth while you’re fast asleep. The reason the condition develops is different for each person, but in most cases diet, stress, lifestyle choices and family history are determined to be an underlying cause of bruxism.
Signs of Teeth Grinding at Night
If you’re dealing with one or more of these symptoms, there’s a good chance that you grind your teeth at night:
- Grinding or clenching your jaw loud enough to wake your partner.
- Flattened, chipped or loose teeth.
- Worn down tooth enamel.
- Increased tooth sensitivity.
- Jaw soreness or facial pain in the morning.
- Headaches or ear pain upon waking.
- Tired or tight jaw muscles.
- Clicking or popping of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) when chewing or talking.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out to your dentist. Unaddressed teeth grinding can lead to tooth problems and TMJ issues, all of which can be both painful and costly. The sooner you treat the problem, the quicker you can put this issue behind you.
Treating Teeth Grinding at Night
There are a number of different ways to treat the condition, and it helps to try and pinpoint what might be causing your issues. Here’s a look at some treatments based on the underlying cause.
- Stress – If stress is contributing to teeth grinding, try to limit stressful activities at the end of the day, or find ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
- Medication – Medication can also contribute to restfulness and teeth grinding at night. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication regimen.
- Alcohol and Smoking – Certain lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking alcohol can lead to an increased likelihood of bruxism. Limit your tobacco and alcohol intake within a couple of hours before bed.
- Family History – If genetics seem to play a role in teeth grinding, your dentist may recommend a night mouthguard to limit damage from grinding. This is also an option for other underlying causes of bruxism.
Other ways to try and limit teeth grinding at night is to cut back on caffeine, avoid chewing on objects like pens or fingernails during the day, and avoid chewing gum if you grind your teeth because that can make TMJ pain worse. For more tips on how to prevent and treat teeth grinding, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.