If you wake up in the morning with aching teeth or stiffness in your face, there’s a possibility you may be grinding your teeth in your sleep. It can be a sign of anxiety and stress, and while it’s not a dangerous condition, it can wear down your teeth. At Pure Smiles Fulham, our dentists will easily be able determine if you grind your teeth. Teeth grinding has many causes and you might not even be aware you have it.
Teeth grinding is medically known as bruxism. For many people, it occurs unconsciously during sleep, but there’s also wake-time bruxism, which as the name implies, happens when you’re awake. Bruxism involves contact between the biting surfaces of the lower and upper teeth. So, it’s similar to chewing with no food in your mouth. Episodes of teeth grinding normally occur in short clusters throughout the night. The contact between the teeth can produce some hair-raising sounds and often it’s a partner who will complain about being disturbed. People often won’t be woken up by the sound of their own teeth grinding.
Bruxism may lead to headaches, jaw pain and earaches. Bruxism isn’t a serious condition, but it can cause severe damage to the teeth in some instances. Most of the time, sleep bruxism is a singular problem, but it can occur with other sleep disorders that require more serious attention. These include restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, REM sleep behaviour disorder, and sleep-related epilepsy. Sleep disorders can increase the likeliness of bruxism occurring.
Causes of teeth grinding
There are many causes of teeth grinding but as mentioned, stress and anxiety can be a trigger for many people. According to the NHS, 70% of bruxism occurs as a result of anxiety and stress. Grinding the teeth can be the body’s way of relieving stress through aggression. It’s important to get your stress levels under control, as the grinding can get worse.
However, teeth grinding can be a result of lifestyle choices. It has been speculated that high alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking and overstimulation before bed can contribute to bruxism.
In some cases, teeth grinding may occur because of a dental problem. For instance, you might have misaligned teeth or crowded teeth, making it difficult to close your mouth properly.
Treatments for Bruxism
Teeth grinding can be treated with mouth guards and night-time splints. They can reduce the pressure in your jaw and protect your teeth from further damage, through creating a barrier between your top and bottom teeth. Mouth splints are made from hard plastic and will last for several years whereas mouth guards usually only last for less than a year. You can buy a splint from your local pharmacist, but Pure Smiles in Fulham Road and New Kings Road, offers custom-made splints for the perfect fit. Guards and splints have been found to be the most effective treatment against bruxism. However, if necessary, we may offer you orthodontic treatment such as same-day teeth and Invisalign.
To help reduce stress and wind down before bed, you could try deep breathing, yoga, reading or some other light exercises.
Getting a good night’s sleep and finding a way to manage your stress will help to break your teeth grinding habit. If you believe you are suffering from bruxism, Pure Smiles Fulham has an excellent team of dentists offer great non-invasive treatment. In addition, we can offer hygiene services to keep your teeth bright and clean. The key is to always investigate the cause of your teeth grinding and take it from there.