I Grind My Teeth When I Sleep – Is This Something to be Concerned About?
Teeth grinding, whether it’s at nighttime or during the day can be very destructive to your teeth, and the bone and joints that support your teeth.
Dentists in Vestal NY and elsewhere use the term “bruxism” to describe teeth grinding. It can happen to anyone at any time, but most often people grind their teeth in their sleep. You may not even know you’re doing it. The causes are not always clear but stress and bite imbalance seem to be the most common causes.
Symptoms of bruxism may include the following:
- A sore, tired jaw
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Dull headaches
- Neck aches
- Clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth
Teeth grinding or bruxism can cause extensive damage. The damage may include:
- Chipping enamel
- Flattened, worn down teeth
- Loosened teeth
- Cracked teeth
- Gum recession
- Temporomandibular “TMJ” jaw joint pain and swelling
To reduce the risk of wear and tear of your existing healthy teeth, dentists often prescribe a nightguard. A nightguard is a clear, thin removable device custom made to fit over either your upper or lower teeth. It is worn when you’re most likely to grind your teeth and protects your teeth from the effects of this destructive habit. We may also recommend a bite adjustment if the dentist feels that your bite is off and it is one of the causes of your grinding habit. Stress reduction including relaxation techniques and biofeedback are often helpful. We also often recommend a soft diet at first and hot, moist heat to help relax your tense muscles.
So if you know you grind your teeth, or your jaw locks, have frequent headaches or tender jaw muscles, talk to us about the use of a nightguard. This simple appliance can save you pain, time and money and help keep your teeth healthy for a lifetime.
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