With February in full swing, you are probably showering the people you care about with some extra love! Don’t forget to show yourself some love, too, especially when it comes to your oral health! Bruxism is one of those oral habits that can cause serious issues with your temporomandibular joints, or TMJs. Today, we’d like to talk a little about how you can avoid bruxism, which exacerbates TMJ issues.
Fact: Did you know that bite force pressure from bruxism is even greater than when you are awake? Nighttime bruxing can apply around 250 pounds of force per square inch of pressure that can last up to 40 minutes for each hour spent sleeping.
What is Bruxism?
This involuntary grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw can often happen while you catch your zzzs. Sleep bruxism can happen to anyone at any age, although it frequently affects children and young adults. When this nocturnal habit goes unchecked for a while, it can cause serious issues. Even though there isn’t a permanent remedy to make you stop grinding your teeth in your sleep, there are some things we can help you with to lessen how often you do it.
Pain in the mouth, jaw, or neck arising from constant teeth grinding indicates that you should see a TMJ specialist or dentist. In fact, sleep bruxism causes problems with your mouth and sleep health. Ruling out conditions like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can help us better determine what is causing your bruxism so it can be effectively addressed.
Signs You Might Be Bruxing in Your Sleep
- Chronic headaches or earaches
- Pain radiating through your jaw, face or ears
- Flattening of your teeth
- Teeth that are loose or hurting
- Teeth that are cracked, damaged, or fractured
- Broken dental crowns and fillings
- Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
If any of these sound all too familiar, we encourage you to be checked for bruxism before further damage continues to your mouth. Seeking proper care can make a big difference to the long-term health of your teeth, bite, and jaw by protecting your smile and improving sleep quality.
Sleep Bruxism Treatments
One of the easiest and most effective remedies for bruxism includes wearing a night guard or dental splints. These are great solutions to guard against nocturnal teeth grinding. These custom oral devices work by keeping your jaw in a specific position while simultaneously serving as a protective barrier to lessen the damage when grinding. Another potential benefit to certain mouth guards is that they keep your jaw in a slightly open position so that your masseter muscles (those that do all the chewing) allow them to relax while you sleep. Depending on the mouth guard, you might wear it over the full set of your top or bottom teeth or simply cover a smaller area of your mouth.
Mandibular advancement devices (or MADs) are often used for mild obstructive sleep apnea and chronic snoring. Your teeth keep this device in place while moving the lower jaw forward. It keeps your airway open while minimizing bruxism. A custom mouth guard can give your smile the care it needs to keep your teeth safe from bruxism. They reduce bruxism symptoms while protecting your teeth from prematurely wearing down.
If your teeth show signs of bruxism, we invite you to give our team a call for a consultation. Your smile deserves all the love you can give it!