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Sleeping With Bruxism Is More Dangerous Than You Think

Girl with jaw pain from grinding her teeth at night

During periods of extreme stress or anxiety, it is not uncommon to begin the behavior of clenching or grinding your teeth. If it turns into a habit, we can find ourselves grinding our teeth even in our sleep. This chronic behavior of grinding one’s teeth is called bruxism.

The Causes of Bruxism

There are a number of factors outside of stress which contribute to bruxism. Not everyone who is experiencing stress or anxiety will have bruxism. Snoring, sleep apnea, and poorly aligned teeth can also make bruxism more likely. Similar to stress, however, not everyone with these issues may suffer from bruxism.

There are many medications where bruxism is a side effect, so be sure to discuss anything you take, whether it is prescription or over the counter, when discussing this issue with your dentist.  Additionally, some lifestyle choices such as alcohol or tobacco usage can contribute to the habit as well.

Additional factors may include:

  • Hereditary factors
  • Hyperactive personality
  • Younger age
  • Health disorders

How Is Teeth Grinding During Sleep Dangerous?

A major problem of bruxism is that it is done unconsciously. Patients who grind their teeth during sleep may not know unless they wake up with a sore jaw, headache, have a bed partner who will hear them, or when their dental hygienist and dentist inquire about the wear demonstrated on their teeth. Early treatment is important in order to prevent a number of cosmetic issues that can arise as a result.

What Issues Can Night Bruxism Create?

Tooth Damage:

One of the most prominent issues is creating damaged or broken teeth. As wear and tear occurs it is possible to notice uneven surfaces develop on a tooth's surface. Over the long-term, cracks or chips may begin to appear as well as exposed dentin. If your tooth does become cracked, it is left more vulnerable for cavities and infection as well as nerve damage. If issues become this severe, patients are at risk for pain or more extensive dental treatment. Another reason why it is best to seek treatment as early as possible!

Jaw and Tooth Pain

If you have ever taken a moment during the day to pause and relax your jaw, you might have found that it can have a relieving feeling. Keeping clenched teeth can cause a lot of stress on your jaw and lower face. As a result, those who chronically grind their teeth may experience jaw pain, facial pain, and even pain in the ears. Depending on the severity of grinding you may also experience headaches, especially during morning, as well as pain in the temple.

Night Guards for Bruxism

The best defense against overnight bruxism is a dentist prescribed mouth guard. These mouth guards provide protection for your teeth and can prevent any damage that might otherwise happen. Custom fit night guards are a two visit process: at the first visit, measurements are taken and at the second visit, the guard is tried on and adjustments are made if needed. They can also be purchased over the counter, however, custom made mouthguards are more comfortable and effective than store bought mouthguards. Their low cost may make them an appealing solution but a proper fit created through a custom-made tray will provide better results.

Stress Management

If stress is determined to be the cause of bruxism, undertaking stress management exercises can help relax the facial muscles responsible for grinding. Employing relaxation techniques before falling asleep can help create a better night’s rest by keeping the jaw muscles relaxed overnight.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you believe you are suffering from chronic bruxism, you can visit any of our Dental365 locations in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey to create a treatment plan that can prevent further complications. Contact us at (844) 365-DENTAL for more information or to schedule an appointment.

 

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