Do you ever wake up in the morning with an aching jaw or a headache?
If this happens to you on a regular basis, there’s a good chance you are grinding your teeth in your deep sleep – and you don’t even realise you are doing it.
A significant part of our population in modern world grinds their teeth from time to time including kids, teenagers and adults.
Some of us could be regular, forceful tooth grinders. Ouch!
This is the sort of chronic teeth grinding that can become problematic. It can also be very noisy so you may find yourself unpopular with your sleeping partner or room-mate!
What IS teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding is otherwise known as bruxism (yep it’s a word that you don’t hear used too often – unless you work in a dental practice!)
Bruxism is defined as the involuntary clenching, gnashing and grinding of your teeth.
If your teeth are in contact too often or too forcefully, you can, over time wear down your tooth enamel – the outer layer that protects your tooth. Dental research says our teeth should only be in contact for two minutes in any 24 hour period.
If the second layer, the dentin, becomes exposed this can lead to tooth sensitivity. Without the enamel to protect your teeth, you can end up with some serious (and potentially costly) dental problems.
Symptoms of teeth grinding
You can be a ‘bruxer’ and not know it! There are several tell-tale signs to look for:
Headaches or pain in the jaw joint
Aching teeth – particularly in the morning or after waking up
Teeth that are sensitive to hot or cold temperatures
Stiffness in the face (or temples) immediately after waking up
Teeth marks (indentations) on the tongue
Chipped or cracked tooth enamel
Grinding sounds whilst sleeping
Noticeably clenching the jaw when stressed or anxious
Painful jaw-joints or radiating neck pain.
Causes of teeth grinding
Anxiety and depression
Sleep disordered breathing in kids and adults
Misaligned teeth or bite
Alcohol, smoking, high caffeine intake
Some medications including antidepressants and amphtetamines.
Other causes ….
While stress and anxiety have been identified as THE most common cause, there is new evidence to suggest another culprit. Sleep apnoea.
Sleep apnoea is now considered to be strongly associated with chronic tooth grinding.
In this case, the grinding has less to do with stress. As your body cycles through the various stages of sleep, many of your muscles relax. For some people, relaxing the jaw and tongue obstructs their airway.
The physical act of clenching the jaw and grinding teeth actually serves to reopen the airway. In that sense, tooth grinding is a sort of automatic measure of self-preservation. It allows you to continue breathing.
Sleep apnoea can be a serious problem. So if it turns out that your tooth grinding is related to a sleeping disorder, it is of utmost importance that you contact your local specialist or doctor trained in sleep medicine.
At Jannali Dental Care we can help patients who suffer from persistent teeth grinding. ✅✅✅
We will ask you some questions and check your teeth for wear and any damage, as well as check the muscles in and around your jaw.
While there are no quick-fixes or medications to stop bruxism, Dr Brian would offer the following options to control your teeth grinding and prevent it from causing further damage to your teeth and jaws:
occlusal splint or night-guard,
relaxation of jaw-muscles with heat/cold application,
muscle relaxant injection (botox) in jaw muscles, or
referral to a specialist for a sleep study and related treatment.
If you think you grind your teeth, or you know someone who does, then CALL US at the clinic on (02) 9528 9204 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org OR click HERE to leave us a message and we will call you back.
Teeth grinding is not something to simply ignore. ❌