Is Teeth Grinding Ruining Your Sleep? Learn How Mouthguards Can Help
Do you ever wake up in the morning with a sore jaw, a dull headache, or teeth that seem more sensitive than usual? If so, you might be one of the many people who unknowingly grind their teeth at night. Teeth grinding, also medically known as bruxism, can be a silent and destructive nighttime habit that affects millions of individuals around the world. Often unnoticed until its consequences become painfully apparent, bruxism can lead to dental issues, jaw pain, headaches, and even disturbed sleep patterns. Thankfully, there’s a reliable and practical solution to combat this nocturnal dental dilemma: mouthguards.
Read on further to understand what teeth grinding is, its causes and effects, and most importantly, how mouthguards can help you achieve a peaceful night’s sleep.
What is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding is a dental condition characterised by the involuntary clenching, gnashing, or grinding of the teeth, typically occurring during sleep (nighttime bruxism). It’s a common issue that affects people of all ages, often remaining unnoticed until a concerned family member or loved one observes these actions or when individuals themselves become aware of its symptoms through a dentist’s diagnosis.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
The exact causes of teeth grinding are not always clear-cut, and may result from a combination of factors. Some of the most common causes and contributing factors include:
Stress and Anxiety: Psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, and tension, are strongly linked to bruxism. Many individuals grind their teeth as a subconscious response to emotional stress or pressure.
Misaligned Teeth or Bite: Irregularities in the alignment of teeth (malocclusion) or an abnormal bite can lead to teeth grinding as the jaw seeks a more comfortable position.
Sleep Disorders: Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome, are associated with an increased risk of nighttime teeth grinding.
Medications: Some medications, particularly antidepressants and stimulants, have been linked to teeth grinding as a side effect.
Lifestyle Factors: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have been associated with an increased risk of bruxism.
Age and Genetics: Bruxism can sometimes be more prevalent in certain age groups, and there may be a genetic predisposition to the condition.
Neurological Factors: In some cases, bruxism can be linked to neurological conditions or diseases.
It’s important to note that the exact cause of teeth grinding can vary from person to person, and sometimes, it may not have a clearly identifiable cause. Understanding the underlying cause can be important for developing a successful treatment plan or preventive measures.
What is a mouthguard?
A custom-made mouthguard is a dental appliance meticulously crafted to fit your mouth’s unique contours, specifically designed to combat the detrimental effects of teeth grinding or bruxism. These mouthguards are typically composed of high-quality materials like acrylic or soft thermoplastic, chosen for their durability and comfort.
How does a Mouth Guard Help Prevent Teeth Grinding?
The fundamental function of a custom mouth guard is to create a precise barrier between your upper and lower teeth. This separation prevents direct tooth-to-tooth contact during grinding episodes, effectively minimising the damaging friction and forces responsible for tooth wear and damage. This personalised and comfortable solution is considered the gold standard for managing bruxism, providing comprehensive protection for your teeth and oral health.
At Blue Gum Dental, we offer custom made mouthguards designed to help you manage bruxism and protect your teeth and gums from damage. Our friendly dentists work closely with you, conducting a thorough oral examination, listening and understanding your needs to identify the underlying cause and provide personalised treatment plans. We don’t just work with teeth but consider your overall health, lifestyle factors and unique needs for long term and sustainable solutions that deliver successful results.
Benefits of Wearing Mouthguards at Night
Mouthguards offer various benefits to people who grind their teeth, helping improve both oral and overall health. They include:
Prevents Tooth Damage
Teeth grinding can exert significant pressure on your teeth, leading to several potential dental issues. The continuous friction and grinding action can wear down the protective enamel layer of your teeth, increasing the risk of tooth sensitivity, chipping, fractures, and even tooth loss over time. By wearing a mouthguard, you can prevent direct contact during grinding episodes, reducing the impact forces and protecting your teeth from the potential damage associated with bruxism.
Bruxism often involves the clenching of jaw muscles with great force, which can lead to muscle fatigue and tension. This muscle tension can radiate to the temples, forehead, and other parts of the head, resulting in tension headaches or migraines upon waking. A well-fitted mouthguard helps relax the jaw muscles by discouraging excessive grinding and clenching. As a result, it can reduce the frequency and severity of headaches associated with bruxism, leading to improved comfort upon waking.
Limits Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Certain types of mouthguards, particularly those designed to reposition the lower jaw slightly forward, can be beneficial for individuals with mild to moderate sleep apnea or chronic snoring. These mouthguards help keep the airway open by preventing the tongue and soft tissues at the back of the throat from collapsing, thus reducing the occurrences of breathing interruptions and snoring during sleep. This can lead to quieter and more restful sleep for both the affected person and their sleep partner.
Improved Sleep Patterns
Bruxism episodes can disrupt your sleep patterns, causing frequent awakenings throughout the night. The noise generated by grinding can also wake those sleeping next to you, disturbing their sleep. Mouthguards prevent the abrasive grinding action, promoting more uninterrupted sleep. With improved sleep continuity, you’re more likely to progress through the various sleep cycles, including the deeper stages of restorative sleep. This can lead to enhanced overall sleep quality, leaving you feeling more refreshed in the morning.
Reduces Jaw Tension and Pain
Prolonged bruxism can lead to muscle fatigue and tension in the jaw, potentially resulting in jaw pain and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. A mouthguard helps relax the jaw muscles by discouraging excessive grinding and clenching. This muscle relaxation can help reduce jaw discomfort and pain, making daily activities like eating, talking, and yawning more comfortable and less painful.
Enjoy a Restful Night’s Sleep with Our Custom Mouthguards
Mouthguards offer a multifaceted approach to managing the adverse effects of bruxism. If you suspect that you grind your teeth at night and are worried about your oral and overall health, our gentle dentists are here to help. With a range of general, restorative and cosmetic treatments tailored to your specific requirements and a warm and relaxing environment that puts your peace of mind first, we’re here for you at every stage of your wellness journey. Book a consultation today.
FAQ: Stop Teeth Grinding at Night With Mouthguards
You may need a night mouth guard if you experience symptoms like teeth grinding (bruxism), jaw clenching, or waking up with jaw pain, headaches, or damaged teeth. A dentist can diagnose these issues and recommend a mouth guard if necessary. Night guards provide a protective barrier, preventing further damage to teeth and alleviating discomfort associated with these habits. If you suspect you have any of these symptoms, consult a dental professional for an evaluation to determine if a night mouth guard is suitable for you.
It can initially be challenging to sleep with a mouth guard, as it may feel bulky or unfamiliar. However, most people adapt to it over time. Custom-fitted mouthguards from a dentist tend to be more comfortable than over-the-counter options. To make the adjustment easier, establish a routine, keep the mouth guard clean, and follow any aftercare instructions given by your dentist. While it may take some getting used to, the benefits of protecting your teeth and alleviating jaw discomfort often outweigh the initial discomfort of wearing a mouth guard during sleep.
The effectiveness of a mouthguard can vary depending on the individual and the specific issue it’s addressing. In cases of teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism), some people experience relief from symptoms like jaw pain and tooth damage within a few days to a couple of weeks of consistent use. However, it may take longer for others to see noticeable improvement. The key is consistent and proper use. It’s essential to follow your dentist’s recommendations and monitor your progress over time to determine the mouth guard’s effectiveness. Sometimes your medical practitioner may recommend alternative sleep therapies and lifestyle changes with the night guard to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.