Do you find yourself grinding your teeth in your sleep? Bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding, occurs in about 8% to 10% of the adult population. It’s commonly characterised by tooth grinding and jaw clenching during sleep, which may also produce bizarre sounds and on the rare occasion, vocalisations.
Bruxism can cause abnormal wear of the teeth, jaw pain, headache, facial pain or tooth pain. Often people who grind their teeth during sleep are unaware they do so, although their partner may be awoken by it.
If left untreated, this may lead to health complications as tooth enamel can begin to wear down if teeth are in contact too often or too forcefully. Regular clenching or grinding your teeth can also lead to pain in the jaw or in the muscles of the face. While bruxism happens during sleep, you may be feeling the pain of bruxism long after you wake.
There are many reasons for bruxism such as emotional stress (e.g. anger and anxiety), drug use (e.g. stimulants), having to concentrate hard, illness, not having enough water in your body, the wrong diet, sleep problems, teething (in babies), bad tooth alignment and problems with dental work.
To determine whether you suffer from bruxism, a sleep study may be needed which will show how much you move your jaw while asleep. While there are no medications that will stop sleep bruxism, adopting good sleep practices including winding down and relaxing before sleep, may reduce the incidence.
Relaxation or awareness techniques and even counselling may help to relieve stress in your life. A grinding mouthguard can be made, similar to a sports mouthguard, but harder. It will help protect the teeth, muscles and jaw joint from the pressure of clenching and grinding and although It will not stop bruxism it will lessen the damage to your teeth.