Do You Suffer from Persistent Teeth Grinding? Our Perth Dental Clinic Can Help
Do you ever wake up in the morning with an aching jaw or sore jaw muscles? If this happens on a regular basis, there is a good chance that you have been grinding your teeth in your sleep. Though now always serious in nature, chronic teeth grinding in your sleep can lead to complications, including worn-down enamel.
As a leading Perth dental clinic, Mint St Dental clinic regularly helps patients deal with a range of chronic dental and oral hygiene problems. We’ve seen many patients who have had to deal with persistent tooth grinding for years on end. With our help, they’ve been able to resolve this problem and put an end to the complications it creates. In this post, we’re going to explain more about why teeth grinding occurs and offer some insight into what you can do about it.
What Is Teeth Grinding?
Officially known as bruxism, teeth grinding involves the involuntary clenching, gnashing and grinding of your teeth. The vast majority of these cases occur during deep sleep, without the patient’s knowledge. According to the Better Health channel, about half the population grinds their teeth from time to time. Furthermore, one in twenty people are regular, forceful tooth grinders.
There are several tell-tale signs to look for if you’re concerned that you may be grinding your teeth in your sleep. Some of them will have to be confirmed by another person in proximity to you while you’re sleeping:
- Headaches or pain in the jaw joint
- Aching teeth – particularly in the morning or after waking up
- Teeth that are sensitive to hot or cold temperatures
- Stiffness in the face (or temples) immediately after waking up
- Teeth marks (indentations) on the tongue
- Chipped or cracked tooth enamel
- Loose teeth
- Grinding sounds whilst sleeping
- Noticeably clenching the jaw when stressed or anxious
The last point leads us into one of the leading causes of tooth grinding—stress. Dentists and orthodontists have long connected stress to bruxism. Anger, anxiety and even physical stress, such as that brought on by an illness may cause a person to grind their teeth in their sleep (or even when they are awake).
Furthermore, some people are prone to tooth grinding when locked in deep concentration. If you notice yourself doing this involuntarily whilst awake, then there is a good chance you are also grinding your teeth in your sleep.
Other Causes of Bruxism
As we mentioned above, stress and anxiety have been the usual suspects for bruxism, but there is new evidence to suggest another culprit may also be at work in certain cases. As it turns out, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is strongly associated with chronic tooth grinding.
In this case, the issue has less to do with stress. Instead, as your body cycles through the various stages of sleep, it becomes necessary for as many of your muscles as possible to relax and let go. But for some people, relaxing the jaw and tongue can actually obstruct the airway.
As it turns out, the act of clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth actually serves to reopen the airway. In that sense, bruxism is a sort of automatic measure of self-preservation on behalf of your body. It allows you to continue breathing without requiring that you fully wake up.
However, sleep apnoea in itself is a serious problem. Those who suffer from it are not getting the restful, deep sleep that their body requires. The state of consciousness required to clench your jaw muscles is disruptive to your sleep cycle, and it means that you’re waking up in a damaged state. If your bruxism is related to OSA, then treating the sleep apnoea will also correct the bruxism as well.
Your physician will be able to advise you on how to best treat your OSA. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking can help. And when relevant, allergy treatment can also reduce the occurrence of this distressing sleep event.
Our Perth Dental Clinic Can Reduce the Harm of Bruxism
Mint St Dental is one of the best dental clinics in Victoria Park, and we have treatment options for patients who suffer from persistent teeth grinding. We can make a custom dental mouthguard to wear whilst sleeping. We should note that this is a measure of harm-reduction, and it doesn’t treat the root causes of teeth grinding. However, this works as an excellent stopgap while you work to address the root causes.