Is it regular routine for you to wake up with a sore mouth and uncannily sensitive teeth? Have you never before complained about headaches or toothaches but seem to not be able to get rid of these pesky issues as of lately? You may, in fact, be suffering from a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism is an abnormal yet common condition that manifests as involuntary teeth grinding and jaw clenching especially during sleep.
Experts suggest that tooth-grinding is a behavior pattern rather than a disorder and can be brought on by a number of factors, particularly day-to-day stressors. Everyday stressors or stimulants such as late project submissions, an unexpected expense in the middle of the month, or a sick friend can all cause stress and make you want to grit your teeth.
However, as innocuous as this behavior may seem, it is absolutely a destructive phenomenon for your teeth and your overall health. If you have been frequenting the jaw gym to give your jaws a serious workout, you might want to contact a dental professional before your jaws give out.
What is sleep bruxism?
Sleep bruxism is teeth grinding and jaw clenching that takes place when you’re sleeping. While Awake bruxism is more common, sleep bruxism can be a precursor for a much more severe underlying issue. If you’re a sleep-bruxer, you may often be unaware of your nocturnal teeth grinding. Additionally, a sleeping person cannot gauge his bite strength and may often bite or clench with a force of up to 250 pounds!
According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep bruxism is more common in children, adolescents, and young adults. Studies have correlated anywhere from around 6% to up to nearly 50% of children with sleep bruxism.
What are the symptoms of sleep bruxism?
Contrary to popular belief, people with sleep bruxism do not grind their teeth throughout the night. Instead, these compulsive teeth grinding and clenching erupt in episodes. While some people may experience a few episodes per night, others go as far as experiencing 100 a night.
The main symptom of sleep bruxism is, of course, involuntary clenching and grinding of the teeth during deep sleep. Other common symptoms and side effects, according to the NHS, that you may experience if you’re an avid bruxer are:
- Headaches and facial pain
- Pain and stiffness in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles
- Disrupted sleep
- Worn-down teeth, which can lead to increased sensitivity and even tooth loss
- Broken teeth or fillings
Most cases of sleep grinding can be corrected with the help of appliances known as night guards. These dental guards put a barrier between your upper and lower teeth when you sleep and allow the forces produced from grinding to be dispersed evenly throughout the base plate. By doing so, it obviates direct damage to your teeth and jaws, relieving the tension and also cushioning the muscles in the jaw.
You can purchase a night guard either over-the-counter or get it prescribed straight from a dentist’s office. Typically, there are three types of night guards with their specific benefits and shortcomings. They are:
1. Soft night guard: This type of guard is primarily fabricated to be used at night and may be used in mild to moderate cases of sleep bruxism. Since they are made up of soft pliable material, they are comfortable to wear and easy to get used to. They are also more affordable. However, since the material is soft, the durability of these appliances is often shortened, spanning up to 6 months from initial use.
2. Dual laminate night guards: Moderately severe bruxism may be treated using these kinds of night guards. They are made up of two kinds of materials – soft on the inside and hard on the outside. They can handle heavy clenching and grinding forces and usually last longer than soft guards due to their tough exterior. They are a little thicker than other guards and may take a while to get used to.
3. Hard night guards: Hard night guards are made up of acrylic and are extremely rigid. This also allows them to be more durable than the rest. These may be prescribed in cases of severe grinding as well as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). However, these tend to be a little on the expensive end.
If you’re currently suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms, there is a wide selection of nightguards that may pander to your specific situation. Contact your dentist to get fitted for a customized nightguard just for you.
Nightguards for teeth can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription, as well as straight from the dentist or cost-effectively from a specialized online retailer. There are a few different ways they can be fitted, and the type that will work best for you depends on your individual needs.
Call Angel Dental in El Monte to have your check up soon, 626-444-2002.