Have you awoken at night to find your teeth clenched at night, your jaw locked and tight? It can be pretty frightening to realize that, completely unwittingly, you may be causing serious damage to your teeth at night.
Today we’re going to talk about common causes of teeth grinding and clenching, plus how to prevent teeth grinding while sleeping, as well as in the day time.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
Do you suspect you may be grinding your teeth at night? Here are some common signs:
- Waking up locked jaw
- Facial and jaw pain
- Shoulder stiffness
- Sleep disruption for you or sleeping partner
- Fractured or cracked teeth (which your dentist may discover)
Why Do I Grind My Teeth?
Teeth grinding can be caused for a number of different reasons, such as:
- stress and anxiety
- abnormal bite/missing or crooked teeth
- sleep apnea
Some who find themselves grinding teeth at night also find themselves grinding teeth during the day, or exhibiting behavior like chewing ice cubes or chewing their mouth.
Dangers of Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding can fracture and grind down your teeth. When this happens, you may end up needing serious dental help, possibly requiring procedures like:
- Root Canals
These dental procedures can be very costly, so when it comes to grinding teeth, preventive measures are essential before the problem gets worse.
How To Stop Grinding Teeth At Night
If stress seems to be the issue:
- Develop an exercise regiment
- Consider counseling
- Try meditation to help relax yourself
You should also:
- Avoid chewing objects that aren’t food, like gum, pen or pencil tops, your nails, and ice cubes. When your jaw muscles get used to the feeling of clenching and grinding, the process will be more likely to be repeated at night
- Teach your jaw to not let your teeth grind. When you sense your teeth grinding, push your tongue between your teeth, forcing your jaw to relax and preventing teeth grinding.
- Most importantly, consider getting a dental night guard. Naturally grinding teeth while sleeping is harder to prevent and stay aware of. Wearing a dental night guard ensures that your teeth do not grind against each other and cause damage at night.
Your dentist can get a custom-fitted night guard for your teeth grinding problem. Custom mouth guards and comfortable enough that you should have no problem sleeping with them.
You can also pick up quick and easy mouth guards that can be boiled and molded at home, but they are not usually as comfortable, and many dentists recommend the custom fitted mouth guard over the store-bought ones.
If you’re not sure which kind of mouth guard to get, see our post reviewing the differences between dentist mouth guards vs. store bought mouth guards.