Grinding your teeth once in awhile is normal. It’s as much a part of your reaction to stress as clenching your fists might be. But that’s when you’re doing it consciously, when you’re doing it in your sleep however, it might turn into a dental problem. Grinding your teeth in your sleep is called Bruxism.
Teeth grinding in your sleep is usually caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people don’t even know they’re doing it. A telltale sign that you’re grinding your teeth can be a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up. Of course your partner sleeping next to you might also be able to hear it and bring it to your attention.
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. It may wear teeth down to stumps. In such cases bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.
Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.
If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit.
Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:
- Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
- Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
- Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
- Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
- Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
If you suspect yourself of grinding your teeth, talk to Charu Sharma, your Kitchener dentist. She can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and excessive wear z teeth and suggest appropriate treatment