Have you ever been told that you make a lot of noise while you sleep?
Some people talk while they sleep. Others snore. Still others sound like they are chewing on rocks
throughout the night.
The latter is known as bruxism and it is a condition that can damage your teeth, gums, and jaw joints.
Thankfully, your Whittier dentist has ways to help control this condition and prevent further damage.
Bruxism is a condition in which you clench, grind, or gnash your teeth. Though it can happen throughout the
day, most people do this during their sleep.
Nocturnal bruxism is considered a type of sleep disorder and has been scientifically linked to obstructive
sleep apnea (OSA). Researchers have also linked bruxism to diabetes, stating that clenching/grinding
is one of the oral complications of the disease.
In addition to being a side effect of OSA and diabetes, bruxism can be caused by stress and anxiety. When a
person is under stress, their muscles tense up, particularly in the shoulders, neck, and head/face. It is
not uncommon for someone to notice sore jaw muscles after a particularly stressful experience. Anger,
frustration, and concentration can also lead to teeth and facial muscle clenching.
Another cause of clenching and grinding is tooth and/or jaw joint misalignment. Patients who have the
following conditions are
more prone to bruxism:
The cause of bruxing at night is unknown. Some attribute it to chronic stress or stress that has been
carried over from waking hours. Others think it is associated with certain arousals during sleep.
Unfortunately, it is the nighttime bruxism that can do the most damage. People who clench and grind at night
often do not know they do so unless a partner tells them so or their Whittier dentist brings up the
possibility. Because of this, damage is done continuously – sometimes over the course of decades – before a
patient gets help.
Teeth grinding can damage your oral health in three ways.
You have two jaw joints – one on each side of your face. Each joint acts as a sliding hinge, connecting your
lower jawbone (mandible) to your skull (temporal bone). The hinge allows your lower jaw to move up and down,
and from side to side. In between the two bones is a soft disc made of cartilage that protects the bones and
provides smooth movement.
Due to chronic clenching and grinding, the disc can
become damaged. You can also develop arthritis in your
jaw joint. Eventually, you will develop one or more of the following symptoms of TMJ disorder.
When patients start noticing symptoms of TMJ disorder or experience tooth pain, that is when they will
schedule an appointment with their Whittier dentist. This may be the first
time they find out that they
clench and grind their teeth at night.
During your evaluation, your dentist will ask you about your symptoms. Try to provide them with as in-depth
answers as possible. It might be a good idea to keep a symptoms journal between now and your appointment
After discussing your symptoms, your dentist will do an oral evaluation. They will check your teeth and gums
to rule out periodontal disease, decay, and infections. Your Whittier dentist will also look for:
During your appointment, your dentist will also place their hands on either side of your face and have you
open and close your mouth. They are looking for any deviation upon opening and closing, as well as
feeling/looking for jaw popping or clicking.
Based on what they find during evaluation, your dentist will recommend one or more of the following solutions.
Additionally, your dentist may recommend seeing your general physician. They want to make sure they treat the root cause of your bruxism, not simply treating the symptoms. Your doctor may order a sleep study and other diagnostic tests to rule out serious health conditions, like OSA and diabetes.
A Whittier dentist can help you find relief from bruxing pain. With proper care, you can reduce how often you experience headaches and keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong.
In addition to providing you with some pain relief, conquering your nocturnal bruxism will help your partner sleep better at night, too.
If you suspect you are dealing with daytime or nighttime bruxism, contact your dentist to find out how to prevent long-term damage and get a better night’s sleep.
Do you wake up with jaw pain or deal with chronic headaches? You might have TMJ disorder. Contact the team at Dentists of Whittier to schedule a consultation.
CALL (562) 414-5025
REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT NOW!