Anyone might suffer from teeth grinding or bruxism during periods of stress, but some people routinely grind their teeth which can lead to serious dental problems as well as other health concerns. People often grind their teeth in their sleep for a long time before they realize that they have an issue. Eventually, they start to realize that most of their mornings begin with a painful jaw or persistent headache.
As mentioned, stress is a likely cause. However, often sleep apnea is to blame. Sleep apnea is a dangerous sleep disorder with an erratic breathing pattern. Teeth grinding is one of the notable signs of sleep apnea, along with snoring.
Yet another common cause of teeth grinding is poorly aligned teeth. If your upper and lower teeth don’t rest in a normal position during sleep, grinding is easy to occur. Your teeth alignment can be off due to a number of factors, including overcrowding, missing teeth, or damaged teeth.
Teeth are strong, resilient members of our body, but even they can’t stand up to the nightly wear and tear that grinding brings. In time, grinding can shave teeth down to a fraction of their former size. It can also crack a tooth or damage it to the point where it can’t be saved.
Persistent teeth grinding can also contribute to problems with the joint where the jaw meets the skull, called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Disorder of the joint (TMD) can mean severe pain, problems chewing, muscle spasms, and the joint locking in place.
Your dentist can easily check for signs of teeth grinding. As the name implies, grinding wears down the surfaces of the teeth. Signs of damage to the enamel will be clear immediately to the dentist.The dentist will also ask you if various parts of your facial areas are sore or if you experience an uncommon amount of earache. Those are also major indications. Of course, if you don’t sleep alone, your partner may be able to verify that it sounds as if you grind your teeth in your sleep.
Often teeth may grind because your upper and lower teeth are misaligned. However, determining exactly where and to what degree your teeth are out of position can be challenging. In the past, it was sometimes difficult to pinpoint the precise point and severity of where your bite was defective.
Fortunately, that’s not the case anymore. Houston Tanglewood can accurately diagnose where your bite needs adjustment using the T-Scan system. This technology provides a painless way to measure the force and impact your teeth have when they meet. The dentist doesn’t have to guess where the problem lies. The T-Scan uses digital technology to provide a clear, conclusive image of the problem on a monitor, so the dentist can closely analyze and treat the patient.
People who suffer from nighttime teeth grinding can get relief by wearing a mouthguard (also called a dental guard or night guard) when they sleep. The guard is a simple plastic device that fits over your teeth. It’s similar to the mouthguard that some athletes wear. However, it’s designed to specifically keep your teeth from making direct contact with each other and causing damage.
The best mouthguard for you is one that your dentist custom builds for you. It will be far more comfortable than a generic mouthguard that doesn’t consider your particular teeth alignment. If you’re already struggling to get a good night’s sleep, the last thing that you need to worry about is any new discomfort caused by the very thing that’s supposed to help you. A custom mouthguard, in contrast, will fit perfectly. The mouthguard has an added advantage—it can help prevent sleep apnea.
The mouthguard prevents your mouth from completely closing, which helps stop the throat muscles from relaxing too much and shutting off your air supply. Healthy sleep also means an end to snoring.