Why Do I Grind My Teeth at Night?
There are plenty of things that can disrupt your sleep – bad dreams, dogs wanting out, crying babies, or a snoring significant other by your side. Sometimes, though, difficulty sleeping is caused by something a little less obvious – grinding or clenching your teeth. This common habit, known as bruxism, can lead to more than just a loss of Zzzz’s. If left untreated, grinding your teeth at night can result in long-term dental problems, damage, and painful complications. That’s why it’s important to know the signs.
Symptoms You Grind Your Teeth in Your Sleep
Sometimes you may be grinding your teeth so severely that it can actually be heard, even by that snoring sleep partner of yours! In such a case, you will likely be told about your grinding habit. However, if it’s not pointed out to you and you are unsure, watch for these signs when you wake from a restless night:
- Sore, tight, or locked jaw
- Face, neck, or shoulder pain
- Teeth that are worn, flattened, chipped or loose
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
- Painful chewing
- Jaw popping or catching
Causes for Clenching
When you realize you are grinding your teeth, the first thing you wonder is “Why?” While the reasons people clench and grind their teeth at night aren’t completely known or medically understood, there are several risk factors that increase your odds of experiencing bruxism. These include:
- High levels of stress, anxiety, anger, or frustration
- An active, competitive, or aggressive-type personality
- Drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
- Taking certain antidepressant medications
- The use of recreational drugs
- A family history of bruxism
- Underlying conditions such as Parkinson’s, dementia, epilepsy, GERD, ADHD, sleep apnea or other sleep disorders
Treatments for Teeth Grinding
Now that you know why you may be grinding your teeth, the next question is, “What can you do about it?” It’s important to address bruxism in order to avoid long-term issues including tension headaches; chronic pain; temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ); gum inflammation; and tooth damage, breakage or excessive wear that can lead to root canals or replacements. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to try to bring teeth grinding to a grinding halt.
You can reduce risk factors by making healthy choices and changes such as these:
- Reduce stress – exercise, meditate, practice yoga, get a massage, or try other stress relieving strategies to help you calm your mind and relax by the time you climb into bed.
- Avoid stimulants before bedtime – stay away from caffeine and alcohol in the evening, as well as screen time. Turn off the TV and put away your phone and other devices well before you turn in for the night.
Wearing a Night Guard
A mouthguard can protect your teeth while you sleep by providing a cushion that stops teeth from grinding against each other.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to significantly address the problem, it’s time to talk with your dentist about a night (or mouth) guard. While over-the-counter options do exist, they are typically less comfortable and often less effective than mouthguards that are custom-made.
This is because a custom night guard is created from a mold your dentist makes of your teeth, so it is fitted specifically to your mouth and jaw shape and size. It is also made of a more durable material than OTC varieties and offers the perfect thickness to provide you with optimum comfort, which in turn helps provide you with an optimum night’s sleep.
We may not be able to help with your dog’s untimely needs or all that snoring going on, but we can definitely help you protect your teeth from damage!
If you are concerned you may be grinding your teeth at night and are experiencing headaches, jaw soreness or any of the other symptoms listed above, call our main office at 231-737-5500 to make an appointment with Dr. Mogren today. We’ll do everything we can to ensure your teeth stay safe and healthy, even while you sleep.