Did you know that the habit of grinding your teeth during your sleep has a name? The condition is called bruxism. And most people are unaware that they do it - perhaps until the damage is done.
The signs and symptoms of teeth grinding
- You may catch yourself in the act or wake to the sound of grinding teeth.
- Noticing extreme sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures or feel pain when brushing teeth.
- The appearance of torn tissue inside your mouth and on the inner linings of your cheeks.
- Tender, inflamed or bleeding gums.
How to be sure if grinding teeth is a problem
- If you sleep in the same bed as a spouse or partner, or even share a room with a sibling, ask them to observe you while you sleep or...
- Record yourself during sleep. You can do this by using a pocket tape recorder or smart phone and press record as you’re falling asleep and then listen to the recording in the morning for signs and sounds of grinding.
- Make an appointment to see your dentist who can examine your mouth and jaw for symptoms such as jaw tenderness, ground-down teeth and damage.
How to prevent and treat the habit of grinding teeth
There are several things you can do to help.
- Your dentist can prescribe or you can buy a mouth guard to prevent future grinding and protect your teeth and jaw. These are easily available online and you use boiling water to help mold the basic guard to fit your own mouth perfectly. They are comfortable to wear and, as I use one myself, I have never had any problem with them.
- Another way to help you break bad teeth grinding habits is to look at your type of stress habits in daily life (if any). One example is: Do you chew on pencils and pens when stressed at work? This daytime habit can transfer to become a nighttime habit.
Try to avoid stress as most teeth grinding cases are linked to further stress during sleep. Practice good anti-stress measures such avoiding electronics at bedtime, getting plenty of exercise during the day, taking regular yoga classes or meditating. A soothing warm bath complete with some drops of essential oils at bedtime is another suggestion.
- Even your diet can play a part. If it is lacking certain essential vitamins and nutrients, your diet could make you more prone to restless sleep and teeth grinding. Being calcium or magnesium deficient are two examples. Having sufficient levels can prevent muscle spasms while promoting healthy muscle function and nervous system support.
- Too much caffeine at night is another culprit that affects sleeping patterns. Ensure a more restful night's sleep by avoiding stimulants before bed.
Create a relaxing environment at home and in the bedroom to promote a more restful sleep and, with it, less risk of teeth grinding during the night. Consider using a heating pad or hot cloth on the jaw to relax and soothe.
What I have discovered
We only get one set of adult teeth of course and anything we can do to keep them healthy and intact
is vitally important. I am very grateful to my own dentist who, when I recently became her patient, pointed out that my bottom teeth had been worn away and that I was probably grinding my teeth in my sleep. She recommended a teeth guard at night which has worked very well - and she has very recently repaired and restored the top sections of my front bottom teeth in such an amazing way. I was highly impressed with her work. At least if any damage has been caused to the teeth by grinding, today repair work is highly possible. If you suspect you or a member of your family might have the habit of grinding their teeth, I can thoroughly recommend the use of a mouth guard.