We often find ourselves grinding our teeth in stressful situations – while preparing for an exam (Particularly students) or worrying about making the best impression during a job interview. While tooth grinding disappears typically as soon as the stressful conditions are over, some people continue to grind their teeth throughout the day – even during their sleep. What makes grinding more dangerous is that many people are not even aware of this habit, and they only come to know from their partners or loved ones.
If you feel pain around your facial or jaw muscles and teeth – or you have a sore jaw when you wake up every day – you might be grinding your teeth in sleep. But don’t worry; you’re not alone. The Sleep Foundation estimates that as many as 50% of children and around 15% of adolescents grind their teeth, a condition scientifically known as bruxism. While bruxism can severely affect your oral health and overall well-being, the good news is that bruxism is manageable. This article offers everything you know about bruxism; from its types to causes and its management.
Clenching Teeth While Awake, Why Does It Happen?
Usually, people grind their teeth when they are facing a stressful situation. According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, this type of tooth mainly occurs because of an underlying stressor – pressure from work, an assignment deadline approaching or an exam date nearing. While transient stress or anxiety in life is normal, permanent stress is detrimental to one’s physical health and harmful to one’s oral health – as it can lead to constant tooth grinding and damage to the teeth.
Why Do I Grind My Teeth In My Sleep?
Another type of bruxism is which happens during sleep. According to the Bruxism Association, sleep bruxism mainly occurs due to transient arousals (periods of wakefulness) during sleep. It has been estimated that nearly 80% of sleep bruxism cases arise due to some form of underlying sleep disorder.
Similarly, sleep bruxism can also occur as a side effect of various medications. According to the National Health Service (NHS), teeth grinding is often linked to a type of anti-depressants known as the “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
As per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, nighttime grinding is also more prevalent in mentally challenged children or those who have cerebral palsy.
What Is A Night Guard For Teeth Grinding?
A night guard is a removable device similar in design to mouth guards or removable dentures, worn over the teeth to prevent them from the damaging effects of bruxism. The night guards function by serving as a barrier between your teeth. When you clench your teeth while wearing them, the night guard dampens the tension and provides a cushion between your teeth – preventing your teeth from excessive wear and sensitivity. Nightguards are available in different forms.
You can either get one custom-made at your dentist’s office, or you can buy one over-the-counter, boil-and-bite type stock night guard. However, it is always recommended to get a custom-made night guard made by your dentist as it has been designed according to your specific dental needs.
How To Stop Clenching Jaw From Stress?
Jaw clenching or grinding of the teeth can severely affect your oral health, such as the excessive wear of the teeth, disturbance in the bite, tooth sensitivity and jaw joint problems. If you are suffering from stress-related bruxism or clenching of jaws, then you can manage this problem by taking care of the following:
- Stress Management and Muscle Relaxation Techniques- in most cases, tooth grinding and jaw clenching go away as soon as the stressful situation ends. If you are having a stressful time at your workplace, school or university, then you must seek medical help – as it affects both your physical well-being and oral health.
- Jaw Exercises – your dentist will prescribe various jaw exercises that will help in relieving the soreness and inflammation around them.
- Diet Management – certain foods can also cause bruxism. Consult your dentist or healthcare provider regarding a tooth-friendly diet that prevents you from grinding and damaging your teeth.
- Review of Medication – If your dentist feels that you have bruxism during a regular dental appointment because of certain medications you are taking to treat various medical conditions, you should consult your doctor to get it replaced with a suitable alternative.
- Night Guards – as discussed earlier, night guards help by protecting your teeth from excessive wear due to bruxism. However, they are only a preventive option – and not the treatment. Therefore, they should be considered as a temporary solution.
Bruxism And Sleep Quality, Is There A Link?
There is a direct association between the quality of sleep and bruxism. A research study conducted in 2018 concluded that sleep bruxism was more prevalent in children who suffered from any sleep disorder. The Sleep Association recommends maintaining optimal sleep hygiene to minimise tooth-grinding effects on your dental health.
Is There A Link Between Sleep Apnoea And Teeth Grinding?
According to the NHS, sleep bruxism is more common in individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, characterised by a transient cessation in breathing during sleep, leading to frequent arousal from sleep. A research study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that teeth-grinding prevalence was higher in individuals who had sleep problems like sleep apnea.
Bruxism is harmful to your oral health, but it is manageable. If you are also suffering from bruxism, then The Dental Centre London can help you. We have a qualified and experienced team of dentists trained in the management of even the most complex dental problems. Our centre is equipped with the latest diagnostic and therapeutic equipment to diagnose and manage different dental issues, including tooth grinding. So, what are you waiting for? Book a consultation appointment with us today and let us help you with your teeth grinding.