Many people are not aware of their habits while they’re sleeping. Some may snore or talk in their sleep, while others may move around a lot. But one common and often unnoticed sleep habit is bruxism, which is when you grind or clench your teeth.
While bruxism may not seem a big deal, it can lead to several oral and overall health problems. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sleep bruxism and how to treat it.
What is sleep bruxism?
Sleep bruxism is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth while sleeping. It is often a subconscious habit and may happen without you realizing it. Movements can range from mild to severe and may even wake you up.
Although bruxism can happen at any age, it’s more common in young adults. In a prevalence study, 13% of individuals between 18 to 29 are affected by sleep bruxism. However, the actual figure might not be accurate since many people are unaware that they have the condition.
Signs and symptoms of sleep bruxism
The most obvious sign of sleep bruxism is the sound of your teeth grinding at night. If you live with someone, they may be the first to point it out to you. Other signs and symptoms may appear after waking up, such as:
Jaw pain or soreness
Pain and stiffness in jaw muscles are common signs of sleep bruxism. The grinding and clenching can put a lot of pressure on your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull. It can lead to pain in your TMJ and the surrounding muscles.
Headache and earache
Since you continuously clench your teeth while bruxing at night, it may lead to a dull headache when you wake up. It can also cause ear pain since your TMJ is right in front of them. The pain may range from tolerable to severe.
Sensitivity to sounds
The constant grinding can lead to sensitivity to certain sounds and make them more jarring than usual. The clicking and popping of your muscles put your ears on edge, making even the softest sounds irritating.
The most apparent oral sign of sleep bruxism is damaged teeth. The constant grinding can wear down your tooth enamel and cause chips or fractures. This condition can also lead to gum recession since the gums are no longer well-protected from grinding.
Treatment for sleep bruxism
You can treat sleep bruxism in more ways than one. Here are some of the most effective treatments:
The best way to treat sleep bruxism is to visit a world-class dental office. A highly-experienced dental professional knows how to handle this condition. They can give you a patient-centered treatment plan to cater to your needs. This treatment could range from dental devices to care plans. In doing so, you can achieve long-lasting relief from your bruxism.
One of the most common treatments for sleep bruxism is wearing a mouthguard. It’s a custom-fitted appliance that you wear at night to protect your teeth from grinding. The guard will also help reduce muscle soreness and pain in your TMJ.
Often, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth to create a perfect fit for the mouthguard. This way, you can avoid problems with your bite and get the most comfortable appliance possible.
There’s a strong link between stress and sleep bruxism. When stressed, you tend to clench or grind your teeth more often. That’s why it’s essential to find ways to manage your stress levels.
Some stress-relieving methods you can try are meditation, yoga, and aromatherapy. You can also try to get more sleep to fight off fatigue. A visit to a therapist may also help you understand and manage your stress better. Either way, reducing your stress levels can help lessen the occurrence of bruxism.
If your bruxism comes from another condition, such as sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe medication. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes you to stop breathing for short periods at night. It can lead to daytime fatigue, which increases your risk of bruxism. Taking medication can help ease sleep apnea symptoms and reduce your grinding at night. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking medication.
There are also simple home remedies that may help relieve your bruxism. For instance, massaging your jaw muscles can help ease pain and tension. You can also try eating soft foods to avoid overworking your jaw muscles. If you clench or grind your teeth during the day, try to be aware of it and stop yourself. With a little effort, you can help lessen the grinding at night.
Sleep bruxism is a condition that can cause a lot of oral and physical problems. But with the proper treatment, you can achieve long-lasting relief. Above are some of the most effective treatments for sleep bruxism. So, if you think you may have the condition, be sure to consult with your dentist right away. It can save you a lot of pain and oral problems in the long run.