Teeth grinding or teeth clenching typically occurs at night. This is an annoying habit, but grinding your teeth can also cause significant and irreversible damage. If you’ve been grinding your teeth or think you might be grinding them at night, you might be wondering: How do I stop?
We will address this question later in this blog post, but first, let’s talk about what teeth grinding is and why people do it.
What is teeth grinding?
When people have a medical condition known as bruxism, they grind or clench their teeth during sleep. This is a common condition. According to the National Sleep Foundation, one survey estimates that eight percent of adults grind their teeth at night, and one study shows that more than a third of parents report symptoms of bruxism in their children.
Teeth grinding is common in children as well — usually when the baby teeth emerge and when the permanent teeth come in — and it’s typically not a habit requiring treatment.
Children’s teeth and jaws change and grow so quickly, and most outgrow it by adolescence. However, if teeth grinding in your kids causes jaw pain, headaches, wearing on the teeth, or other problems, you should consult your dentist.
At Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry in Alpharetta, GA, we regularly see adults and children who are suffering from teeth grinding. We are able to provide guidance and solutions to help our patients overcome their teeth grinding habits.
Why do people grind their teeth?
The causes of teeth grinding are not always known, but are linked to anxiety, stress, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, caffeine, sleep apnea, snoring, and fatigue.
How do you know if you are grinding your teeth?
If you are suffering from or have any or all of the following symptoms, you may have bruxism:
- Dull headaches
- Jaw pain or soreness
- Jaw joint disorders
- Damaged teeth
Many times teeth grinding at night can go unnoticed. Oftentimes, a sleep partner notices that the person beside them is clenching or grinding his or her teeth.
How to stop teeth grinding
Many times reducing or eliminating stress can alleviate teeth grinding in adults and children.
You can take the following steps to ease symptoms:
- Try to relax in the hours before bedtime. Create a relaxing sleep environment and maintain a regular bedtime routine.
- Use massage and stretching techniques to relax the muscles.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga.
- Consider attending stress counseling.
- Start and maintain a regular exercise program.
- Be sure you are drinking enough water.
- Consider obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants.
- Avoid or cut back caffeine.
- Avoid or limit alcohol.
- Stop chewing on pencils or things other than food and avoid chewing gum.
- Relax your muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek.
For severe and persistent teeth grinding, the most common treatment is the use of a mouth guard, which is able to protect a person’s teeth at night.
At Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we make customized mouth guards to prevent teeth from sliding against each other. A mouth guard protects the enamel as well as the jaw. And if your teeth grinding is caused by a bite problem, orthodontic treatment will move the teeth back into their proper places to remedy the issue.
Grinding your teeth can be an important dental health problem to address. Chronic grinding can result in fracturing, loosening, or even losing your teeth. Some people who grind their teeth even develop a painful TMJ disorder.
Please don’t ignore this potentially serious problem! If you grind your teeth or think you might be grinding them, schedule an appointment today to talk to a dentist. Call our experienced dentist and staff at 678-245-6816, and we will help you preserve your beautiful smile.