We are all creatures of habit. While we have certain habits we consciously engage in during the day, there are also subconscious habits that we perform at night during sleep. Just like daytime habits, nighttime habits are not always beneficial. For example, one of the most common sleep habits is teeth grinding, or bruxism. When teeth grinding is performed on a nightly basis, it can wreak havoc on your partner’s sleep as well as your oral health.
If you grind or clench your teeth while you sleep, how do you become aware of your habit? Most importantly, how do you stop it? Your dentist is the best place to start. Here are some common warning signs that you are a nighttime teeth grinder:
#1 Your Bed Partner is Complaining
While your teeth grinding may not disrupt your own sleep, it can certainly wake your partner up. It is common for patients to become aware of their bruxism habit after hearing complaints from their partner. The clicking and chattering noises throughout the night do not make the best sound machine!
#2 Unexplained Teeth Damage
If you notice that a tooth or multiple teeth have chips, cracks or indentions but you can’t attribute an obvious cause, you should consider bruxism as the culprit. Teeth grinding (or clenching) puts excessive pressure and force on the enamel of your teeth, which can cause teeth to wear down prematurely. Cavities, loose teeth and a change in bite may occur.
#3 Painful, Stiff or Clicking Jaw
Your jaw joint and surrounding muscles also take a beating when you grind your teeth. The repeated stress on your jaw joint (or TMJ) can lead to painful symptoms during the day. If you wake up with a sore or stiff jaw, you should investigate your nighttime oral habits.
#4 Morning Tension Headaches
Teeth grinding is the leading cause of TMJ disorder, which is known for producing symptoms in the jaw as well as the ears and head. In fact, waking up with a tension headache is a common clue that you are clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep.
#5 Changes in Facial Appearance
If bruxism is left untreated for a long period of time, you may notice certain changes in your face. This can include a squarer shaped jaw due to the bulking up of jaw muscles. It can also involve premature aging, where the skin around your eyes, cheeks and lips change due to the wearing down of teeth and change in bite.
Stop Bruxism Before It’s Too Late
If you suspect you are grinding your teeth during the night, please consult with our skilled dentist at Village Dental. We are able to effectively treat teeth grinding with the use of a custom nightguard. A mouthguard can prevent grinding and clenching at night and save you from bruxism’s disruptive consequences during the day. Call Village Dental to learn more.