When you wake up in the morning feeling some sore in your jaw and teeth, with a headache, you may be grinding your teeth while you sleep. Teeth grinding is an unusual habit of clenching your teeth, especially during sleep. It is an involuntary action of gritting, tightening, clenching, or grinding your teeth. This habit is called bruxism.
Oftentimes, a person would not know that they grind their teeth in their sleep but the partner who shares their bed is often the first to hear grinding sounds and eventually notices the problem. You may also notice a friend who feels nervous about his report to be grinding his teeth.
Symptoms of bruxism/teeth grinding
Bruxism is not easy to detect. It is best to consult your dentist when any of these signs persist:
- Agonizing jaws, usually when you wake up in the morning;
- Throbbing headache, sometimes coupled with ear pain;
- Cracked, chipped, or loose teeth;
- Painful or stiffness of the face and temples;
- Sore neck and jaw muscles;
- Sensitivity to hot or cold food, drinks, and weather; and
- Jaw clenching when angry.
Teeth grinding does not only affect you but also the people around you. Some may find it difficult to sleep when they hear the sound of teeth grinding.
Why do people grind their teeth at night?
Those who have sleep bruxism do not grind their teeth throughout the night. Most of them have episodes of grinding and clenching. The frequency of episodes may often be erratic or shifting. Sometimes teeth grinding may not occur for a long time.
The causes of teeth grinding are not known, however, some factors may trigger this habit. These may include the following:
- Anxiety, stress, and other psychological issues;
- Dental and oral health issues such as missing, crooked, or loose teeth or irregularities in the tooth fillings;
- Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy and other medical conditions;
- Medications or when taking particular medicines such as antidepressants;
- Nutritional deficiency or dehydration;
- Drug misuse;
- Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea; and
- other conditions associated with other treatment, medical complications, and health issues.
They say that it is normal for people who grind their teeth at night to not be aware of this condition unless they are told about it.
For family members who experience that their other half or children seem to be grinding their teeth in their sleep, it is best to let them know about it. Help them see a dentist or doctor to find the best solution to end bruxism.
When children grind their teeth
Many parents may have noticed that their children grind their teeth in their sleep. Some parents may notice that their children grind their teeth when they doing activities. Awake bruxism is common to children who at some point feel pressured while accomplishing their tasks or feeling anxious about an upcoming test.
Children’s teeth and jaws change and grow so quickly. In this light, it is not usually a damaging habit that requires treatment. They tend to outgrow this habit as they get older. However, parents should not be complacent about this.
The main risk factors for tooth grinding in children
There is no exact explanation why children grind their teeth, but parents can help ease this condition. You may also encourage your child to do stretching exercises or give them a massage to help relieve muscle pain, especially on the face and neck. Providing a balanced diet for your children can also help them decrease stress and anxiety that causes teeth grinding.
Here are some factors why children grind their teeth:
- Emotional stress and anxiety;
- Medical issues such as pinworms, allergies, nutritional deficiencies, and endocrinal disorders;
- Psychological considerations like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); and
- Oral health issues like pain and discomfort when teeth are starting to grow.
Treatment Options for Teeth Grinding
There is no exact treatment that can totally purge the struggles of bruxism. While there is no accurate cure for teeth grinding, several approaches can be considered to help reduce or lessen episodes and damage associated with teeth grinding.
Treatment options for sleep bruxism depend on the symptoms that the individual is exhibiting. However, it is best to always consult a doctor or dentist. These health and dental experts can diagnose the trigger of teeth grinding and they can explain the benefits and snares of the treatment option that may be considered by the patient.
Here are some possible remedies related to teeth grinding
Use of mouthguards
These work by providing a cushion-like buffer that helps protect your teeth. It can help stop your teeth from grinding when you constantly wear a mouthguard, thus providing ease to your jaw muscles.
When you constantly clench your teeth because you feel nervous, you are likely stressed. This emotional state is common to both young and adults and it is one of the leading factors that lead to teeth grinding. It may be a cliche, but it does help to think of happy thoughts. Wear a smile and be less anxious all day.
This technique is designed to help people become aware of their behavior. It is used to help alleviate bruxism. In this process, a therapist will help you control the movement of your jaw muscles through visual, vibratory, and auditory responses from electromyography.
Another treatment that may be considered is to relieve its symptoms. Avoid chewing gum and hard food that can cause discomfort in your tooth or jaw. Use a hot compress or ice pack to provide temporary relief when you grind your teeth. Facial exercises can also help relax facial muscles and the neck. An oral health check-up can also help detect early signs of teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding is a health issue that should be heeded. Your health information may be reviewed by a doctor or dentist to know why you grind your teeth and they will help you find the best solution that suits your lifestyle.
It is never too late, to alleviate the discomfort of bruxism. Remember that health is wealth!