Sometimes, when we sleep, we grind or clench our teeth in spite of ourselves. There are many reasons for this, but medical professionals are yet to come to a consensus as to why it happens. Teeth grinding or bruxism, as it is medically called, is more common than one would think. It happens in children as well as adults. Some of us grind our teeth during the day, while we are awake. This is called awake bruxism. Some of us do it at night and are not aware of it. This is called sleep bruxism. In this article, we shall endeavor to talk about sleep bruxism in depth and give you tips on how to stop teeth grinding.
Causes of Bruxism
Sleep bruxism is very likely caused by anxiety or stress. Other reasons may include consumption of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and other such intoxicants. Sometimes, depression and related medication may also cause sleep bruxism. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea could also be a likely reason for teeth grinding at night. Crooked or missing teeth could also cause teeth grinding. The actual cause of it is still debatable.
Symptoms & Diagnosis
If you wake up with a dull throbbing or pain in your head, your jaw, or your ears, then you are probably suffering from bruxism. During a regular checkup, your dentist will check to see if there are telltale signs of teeth grinding. These signs will manifest themselves in the form of jaw muscles that are tender, teeth that are missing or broken, flat teeth, or teeth that are worn out. If any or all of these signs are present, your dentist will ask you questions about your general health, oral health, sleep pattern, and lifestyle. Your answers will decide if it is a simple physical problem or if it goes deeper than that.
Teeth grinding cannot be cured but it can be prevented. One of the tried and tested methods to stop teeth grinding at night is a mouth guard that fits on your teeth. The mouth guard stops your teeth from grinding. Splints or occlusal splints do the same thing. There are also mandibular advancement devices that fit over teeth, both top and bottom. However, it is important to treat the underlying causes of bruxism first. Sleeping disorders, like sleep apnea, that supposedly cause sleep bruxism can be treated by sleep specialists. If the bruxism is caused by excessive anxiety, stress, or depression, it is advisable to see a mental healthcare specialist. Consult your healthcare specialist about ways to overcome these factors.
Things that you can do to reduce or stop teeth grinding include:
- Quit smoking
- Avoid alcoholic beverages
- Avoid caffeine based drinks
- Try not to chew gum
- If you find yourself grinding your teeth, place your tongue between your teeth gently so that the grinding action is arrested.
- Manage the level of stress in your life
- Practice yoga
- Set a time for sleep and try to relax in the hours before that
- Drink adequate amount of water
- Go for stress counselling
For other information regarding your dental health, give Des Moines Dental Group a call at 515-512-5339. Schedule an appointment today.