During routine check-ups at My Family Dentistry, we often spot the telltale signs of teeth grinding at night (also known as bruxism). It can cause teeth to be worn down, loose, or cracked, and crowns and other dental work may be damaged. Teeth grinding can also cause headaches and jaw pain—and prevent your loved ones from enjoying their sleep in quiet!
Teeth grinding at night can be difficult to stop because you feel like you have no direct control over the problem. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent the damage or even completely stop the habit.
Identify the Cause if Possible
Like daytime bruxism, teeth grinding at night often stems from stress and anxiety—but there are a variety of other causes, too. We can help you determine the source of your bruxism, which can help decide the best course of action to stop the grinding.
- Stress and anxiety. Mental stress often turns into physical problems. Grinding your teeth while you’re asleep at night is one of many ways that stress causes damage.
- Sleep disorders. Patients with sleep apnea or chronic sleep deprivation carry an increased risk for teeth grinding problems.
- Medications. Certain antidepressants have been linked to teeth grinding at night.
- Psychology. Teeth grinding is common among those with ADHD and certain personality disorders.
- Misaligned teeth. Crooked teeth, overbite, underbite, and other dental problems can cause discomfort that leads to teeth grinding.
Treatments for Teeth Grinding
You can overcome bruxism with lifestyle changes, medications, dental work, and mouth guards. The goal should be to stop teeth grinding and prevent damage from getting worse.
Mouth guards can be custom-fitted so you can sleep comfortably and prevent damage to your teeth. When you grind or clench your teeth, the mouth guard absorbs the pressure and protects the teeth from getting worn down or cracked. Just be sure to keep them clean to prevent bacteria buildup!
Stress management can reduce the frequency and severity of teeth grinding at night. Take a hot bath and let yourself wind down before bedtime. You may also consider therapy, counseling, or medications for severe anxiety.
Change your chewing habits during the day, and nighttime grinding becomes less of a problem. Gum chewing, nail biting, pencil chewing and other habits should be cut out. Over time your sleep habits will also change.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Smoking and drinking in the hours before falling asleep can lead to restless, stressful sleep. Coffee and tea drinkers should end their consumption earlier in the day.
Prescription medications may be necessary for patients with severe bruxism. Muscle relaxants before bed can prevent the jaw from clenching during your sleep.
Teeth alignment and dental repair can also reduce the effects of teeth grinding or eliminate the unconscious urge to grind your teeth.
My Family Dentistry can help you solve the underlying issues of teeth grinding, and prevent further damage to your teeth. Schedule a visit and we’ll examine the situation and recommend the treatment options that will work best for you!