If you’ve ever woken up after a night’s sleep with a dull headache or a sore jaw, it’s possible you were grinding your teeth while you were sleeping. Whether overnight or during the day, we often grind our teeth without even realising. However, not only can teeth grinding lead to oral health issues, it can also indicate the presence of a sleeping disorder.
In this article, discover what to do if you’re grinding your teeth, whether teeth grinding is normal, and how it can affect your oral health.
Is it normal to grind my teeth?
Teeth grinding is a common habit that many children and adults experience. While occasional teeth grinding generally won’t cause any harm, regular or excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching can significantly damage your teeth and increase the risk of long term oral health problems.
What is teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding - also known as a condition called Bruxism - refers to the involuntary clenching of the teeth, usually during sleep.
Teeth grinding can occur as a result of stress, concentration, or laboured breathing due to a sleep disorder such as Sleep Apnoea.
What should I do if I’m grinding my teeth?
If you’re regularly waking up in the morning with obvious signs of teeth grinding - such as pain in the head, jaw or neck - an overnight mouthguard may help. Alternatively, a small device designed to reduce snoring can help to prevent teeth grinding. Talk to your local National Dental Care / DB Dental dentist about these treatments.
If you find yourself grinding your teeth during the day, you may benefit from relaxation techniques such as meditation or breathing exercises. In addition, it’s important to make a conscious effort to keep your teeth unclenched, so get into the habit of relaxing your jaw if you catch yourself clenching or grinding.
Another effective method in the treatment of teeth grinding is Facial Injectables, which involves the administration of a muscle relaxant. By reducing the activity of the facial muscles responsible for clenching and grinding, facial injectables can be a safe and simple way of treating this condition.
What problems can teeth grinding cause?
Excessive or ongoing teeth grinding can lead to a range of dental issues - including broken, chipped or fractured teeth - and can cause permanent damage to your oral health. Grinding and clenching may result in the need for dental treatment including Crowns, Dental Implants or Fillings.
Grinding your teeth can also cause the protective layer of enamel to be worn down, leaving your teeth more exposed to decay and damage, while the continued clenching of your jaw can lead to muscle and joint dysfunction, as well as chronic facial pain.
What is a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)?
Long-term damage to the jaw due to teeth grinding can lead to the development of a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) - a disorder of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is responsible for the jaw movements required for activities such as speaking and eating.
TMD can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw and surrounding areas, and treatment for this condition may require the assistance of other specialists outside of your dentist - including physiotherapists, chiropractors, and GPs.
Teeth grinding and sleep disorders
Teeth grinding may be a consequence of breathing disturbances, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). When your breathing airway is partially or fully blocked, OSA causes muscle spasms due to the lack of oxygen reaching the brain, resulting in a severe disruption to sleep.
As OSA can contribute to teeth grinding during sleep, it’s important to talk to your dentist if you’re regularly grinding your teeth in your sleep.
If you’re concerned about grinding your teeth - or if you regularly wake up with a dull jaw or headache, soreness, or earache - it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your National Dental Care dentist. You can Book Online today.