You could be harming your teeth and jaw structure at night without even realizing it by grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw while you sleep. This condition is known as bruxism, and over time these actions can wear on your mouth and cause permanent damage if not addressed.
The most common reasons for teeth grinding and jaw clenching are anxiety and stress. Bruxism is one of many ways that the human body manifests stress regardless of whether the mind is aware. Other risk factors for bruxism include sleep apnea, bite and alignment issues, and substance abuse.
One way you can tell if you are suffering from bruxism is a sore mouth or tight jaw after waking up. You are also to likely notice your teeth begin to wear down in odd patterns over time. If you share a bed with someone, the sound of you grinding your teeth while you sleep could be loud enough to wake them up, particularly if they are a light sleeper. If this occurs long term, it can lead to headaches and earaches.
Talk to your dentist at your next appointment. They can review the wear patterns on your teeth and examine your jaw to determine whether you have bruxism and were unaware. If that is the case, your dentist will likely prescribe a mouth guard which will prevent your teeth from touching while you sleep as well as give you something to bite if you clench your jaw.
While it could take some time to get used to, it is imperative to continue wearing the mouthguard in order to wake up pain free and more refreshed. It is also important to note that the mouthguard can stop the symptoms of bruxism but is not a cure for any underlying issues. To better understand those issues, it would be beneficial to see a sleep specialist who can do more thorough testing or work with a therapist if the bruxism is caused by anxiety or stress.
If you’ve been waking up with an unusual feeling in your mouth or jaw, you could be suffering from bruxism. Call our office at (215) 643-0666 to schedule your next dental appointment or explain your symptoms. We’ll work with you to develop a customized treatment plan!