Are you concerned about the effect grinding your teeth could have on your dental health? Most people don’t even realize they are grinding their teeth at night, so recognizing the problem is an important first step! Once you know you suffer from teeth grinding – also called bruxism – you can take action.
Bruxism typically has few effects over the short term, so there is time to look for a solution. As a long-term, untreated issue, however, it can be serious. Grinding places uneven stress on your teeth that can lead to chipping, cracking, and even more serious breakage. Ultimately, you could lose teeth.
Some signs that you may be grinding your teeth while you sleep include:
- Pain or tension in the upper or lower jaw shortly after waking up
- Unexplained pain, sensitivity, or surface changes in teeth or gums
- Brief periods of alertness at night accompanied by pain in the mouth
Most people have difficulty noticing anything at all about their sleep habits – after all, you’re asleep! For that reason, it’s not unusual to be totally unaware of bruxism until a sleep partner points out that you are making audible grinding noises while you sleep.
What Actually Causes Bruxism?
Multiple factors can contribute to bruxism, alone or in combination, including:
- Unresolved stress, tension, and anxiety caused by ordinary daily worries
- A sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, that causes disturbed sleep patterns
- Stomach acid reflux into the esophagus, causing instinctive mouth response
- Complications from several chronic musculoskeletal and neurological disorders
Although all these issues can cause bruxism, a very common cause is abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth. An “overbite” or “under bite” can contribute to grinding, as can any missing or crooked teeth. Excellent dental health makes bruxism less likely. That said, someone with no obvious risk factors for the problem can exhibit grinding, too.
How Can You Stop Grinding Your Teeth at Night?
There are several steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of teeth grinding. Sometimes, these will work and no further intervention will be needed. In most cases, however, connecting with your local dentist is the fastest way to resolve the issue.
De-Stress Before Bed to Make Sleep More Relaxing
Many people develop bruxism as a nervous habit over time. It may begin with grinding the teeth or chewing on objects, such as pencils, while awake – before developing into a problem that arises even while asleep. Often, this suggests an issue with stress management. Focus on creating relaxing pre-bed habits that fit into your lifestyle. For example, many people feel better after doing some deep breathing exercises. Positive, calming behaviors can help you fall asleep faster, too.
Improve Your Overall “Sleep Hygiene”
Do you go to sleep at a different time every night? Watch TV or go online while lying in bed? Sleep in a bedroom with significant light from outside or other noises? Better sleep hygiene – the sum total of controllable habits that improve quality of sleep – can help you. You can establish better sleep habits in just one night: Use blackout curtains or black tape to eliminate sources of light, avoid using electronics an hour before bed, and (yes!) decide on a bed time and stick with it.
Consider a Custom Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding
There are even more causes of grinding than we can cover here, but they all have one thing in common. A custom mouth guard from the experts at Dental Health Associates can help you eliminate the symptoms of bruxism – no matter what the underlying cause may be. This can help you reclaim your dental health, improve your sleep, and give you more time in case you wish to follow up with a physician about other potential causes.
In many causes, the “true cause” of bruxism can’t be determined, but you still need relief.
At DHA, we develop special custom mouth guards based on impressions of your teeth so they are just right for you. With our help, you can get instant relief from grinding. Once made, our custom mouth guards will last for years when properly cared for, protecting your smile from unnecessary wear and tear.
By wearing the mouth guard each night, you can effectively reduce your symptoms to zero right away.
The Friendly Staff at DHA Can Provide the Help You Need
Do you need bruxism treatment in Madison? Are you looking for the custom mouth guards Madison residents trust the most? At DHA, we always welcome new patients. Our experts are experienced in general and cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, periodontics, and much more.
No matter what you need, we can help you. We even have on-call emergency dentists!
To find out more and put a stop to grinding worries, call (608) 284-5400. We look forward to helping you!