If you’ve been suffering from headaches and aren’t sure why, it is possible that you are suffering from teeth grinding while sleeping. If you wake up with sore teeth and jaws, you likely could be suffering from what is known medically as bruxism. This condition can develop at any age, and is often done unconsciously in your sleep, in the form of clenching and rhythmic contractions.
Symptoms Of Teeth Grinding
As previously mentioned, headaches are the most common symptom of teeth grinding. In fact, people who grind their teeth are three times more likely to suffer from headaches. Other symptoms can include muscle aches, enlarged facial muscles, stiffness of the shoulders and neck, ear pain, sleep disorders, and discomfort of the temporomandibular joint. As a result of the grinding, your teeth will show visible wear, eventually leading to fracture and loss of teeth.
There are a slew of causes believed responsible for teeth grinding – stress, anxiety, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, heavy caffeine consumption, depression, and sleep disorders. Unfortunately, there is little evidence directly supporting any one cause. Individuals who snore or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from teeth grinding.
The best way to identify a treatment is to have a dentist evaluate you. Treatments can vary based on the causes. A comprehensive exam administered by a dentist can help develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Generally speaking, wearing an occlusal appliance will protect your teeth from tooth wear and fracture. These appliances are custom-fitted pieces of plastic that fit over your top or bottom teeth. By wearing this device to bed, you will reduce jaw muscle pain and protect your teeth.
There is also the possibility of using a mandibular advancement device. These are also custom-fitted devices that fit over your top and bottom teeth. This device moves your bottom jaw forward, and are used when a sleep disorder, such as snoring or sleep apnea, is the cause of your teeth grinding.
It is also possible that a device will not solve your teeth grinding problems. Behavioral management may be necessary to resolve your teeth grinding if anxiety or stress are causing your grinding. Solutions can range from relaxation techniques and meditation to psychoanalysis and hypnosis.
New Research Can Be Changing Our Perspective
Recently, it has been discovered that teeth grinding was a natural response to partial blockage of the airways during sleep. These blockages occur because the jaw relaxes during sleep. Further research will allow us to better understand, diagnose, and treat teeth grinding.