Bruxism Is a Real Grind
Did you sleep all night through, like a baby? Or, did you toss and turn and wake up with a sore jaw and a headache?
If you experience the latter on a regular basis, you may be suffering from bruxism, or teeth grinding. It typically involves moving or clenching the incisors and canines laterally against each other while you sleep.
According to the American Sleep Association, bruxism in the U.S. commonly affects 10% of people. Rates are higher – as much as 50% – in people with a family history of the disorder. Males and females are affected at about the same rate.
Occasional teeth grinding may not be concerning, but regular grinding can cause problems. Because it occurs mainly during sleep, bruxism often goes undetected until a dentist discovers the damage to a person’s teeth. Think a camel’s teeth – stubby and flat. Teeth grinding can result in excessive wear and tear on your teeth, destruction of tooth enamel and periodontal tissue damage. It can also cause sleep problems, headaches, jaw pain and a clicking jaw.
According to WebMD, in some cases, chronic teeth grinding can lead to fracturing, loosening or even loss of teeth. Regular, severe grinding also can wear teeth down to stumps, just like that camel’s smile.
So what causes teeth grinding? Research says most people experience teeth grinding while they sleep at some point during their lives, and the reasons are many. Studies have shown that 70% of people clench and grind their teeth because of stress and anxiety. Some research has even shown a possible link between bruxism and a stressful work environment. It also can be caused by sleeping problems such as sleep apnea and teeth-related problems, including an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.
The National Sleep Foundation says teeth grinding is linked to depression, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, caffeine and fatigue. Using certain medications, including amphetamines, is also associated with episodes of bruxism in the U.S.
How do you know if you’re a grinder? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you wake up with neck, facial or jaw pain?
- Do you get earaches?
- Does your jaw make a clicking sound?
- Do all of your front teeth look like they’re the same length or appear flat?
- Do you have generalized pain in the area below the ears?
- Are your parents or siblings grinders?
- Has anyone else heard you grinding your teeth at night?
- Are any of your teeth loose?
- Are your teeth sensitive?
- Do you wake up in the morning with a dull headache?
- Are the edges of your tongue scalloped?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, there’s a good chance you are grinding your teeth at night. The next step is to visit your dentist so he or she can take a look at your teeth and assess any damage the grinding may be causing. If you determine that you are a teeth grinder, try to figure out why you’re doing it so you can start taking steps to stop it.
One effective way to stop teeth grinding is using a SleepRight dental guard at night. Find out more at www.sleepright.com/dental-guards.
Wishing you a peaceful, grind-free night’s sleep.
Written by Nikki Swartz