According to the American Sleep Association, teeth grinding (or bruxism) affects 10% of Americans adults and as many as 15% of American children. While this oral habit can occur during any time of day, nocturnal teeth grinding is considered the most common sleep disorder. Unfortunately, nighttime bruxism is more difficult to identify, yet it has the most serious consequences within your smile and your overall health.
Once you have determined that you grind your teeth while you sleep, often realized by your bed partner first, you’ll need to take some steps to prevent this habit going forward. Teeth grinding is not a habit you should ignore.
Here’s a 3-step guide to address your teeth grinding habit:
- 1. Understand the Consequences
- It is important that you know the serious drawbacks of teeth grinding. Persistent nighttime teeth grinding can lead to:
- Sore or Stiff Jaw (TMJ issues)
- Morning Headaches
- Tooth Sensitivity
- Shortened or Worn down Teeth
- Damaged Dental Work (crowns, fillings, veneers, etc)
- 2. Know Your Triggers
- Teeth grinding may occur for no reason at all. However, it is common for bruxism to develop during times of high stress or anxiety. It is also more likely in those that have a family history of teeth grinding. Finally, if you have missing teeth, crooked teeth or an abnormal bite, you may be more susceptible to teeth grinding. Determining what triggers your nighttime teeth grinding or makes it worse can be an important way to put an end to this damaging habit.
- Controlling caffeine and alcohol consumption can help manage teeth grinding. It may also be helpful to avoid gum chewing during the day to allow your jaw muscles to relax. Some people find that placing their tongue between their teeth can force the jaw to relax.
- 3. Visit Your Dentist
- If you simply can’t seem to quit your subconscious teeth grinding habit, it is critical that you see a dentist for professional help. At Park South Dentistry, we routinely treat patients who grind their teeth at night. By fitting you with a custom mouthguard, we can prevent the habit and save your smile. Call us today to schedule your appointment – your teeth and jaw deserve to be protected while you are getting a good night’s sleep.