Has anyone ever told you that you grind your teeth while you sleep, or do you ever wake up with some level of pain in your jaw or teeth? If not, do you ever notice yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth while you’re awake? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have overactive jaw muscles. If you’re clenching your jaw while you’re awake, you’re most likely grinding your teeth while you sleep, too.
This condition is known as bruxism (or also sleep bruxism) which is where you unconsciously grind or clench your teeth. It’s common in childhood and many outgrow it, but if you’re prone to showing physical symptoms of stress then it might be a childhood habit you’ll hold onto.
Other indications that you might develop bruxism include being a side effect of some antidepressants or a side effect of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, ADHD, sleep apnea, and epilepsy. If you know any family members who grind their teeth, sleep bruxism tends to occur in families.
Drinking caffeine, recreational drugs, tobacco, and alcohol consumption can also increase the chances of developing bruxism.
Mouth guards you can wear at night (a night guard) help protect your teeth and jaw while you sleep. Some studies have been performed to see the effects of overactive jaw muscles on your mouth, and many have found that teeth grinders experience up to 80 times more wear and tear when you compare them to someone who doesn’t. The more you grind, the more likely that you could even chip or break a tooth when you’re asleep. Having headaches and pain in your jaw/teeth isn’t ideal either. For the most part, though, a night guard can help offset the effects you’ve been experiencing if you do have bruxism.
Plus, it will help protect your teeth and jaw from other effects. A night guard can even save your teeth from normal tooth wear as well, so it can help balance the amount of wear and tear you already have on your teeth.
At Changing Smiles, we can prescribe a bite splint that’s custom-made for your teeth and your bite. It can be hard or soft depending on what you prefer, and it looks like a normal mouth guard you might use for sports. It’s thinner than a sports mouth guard and is removable. You can wear it over your upper or lower teeth while you sleep. It can even ease any pain you wake up with entirely, as it can shift your jaw/teeth into its proper alignment to prevent any tension you’ve been experiencing in your jaw. It’s a great way to protect your teeth, as long as you don’t forget to put it in before you go to sleep.