While you are sleeping your mouth may be very active. If you find yourself waking up in the morning with headaches, unexplained facial pain, sore jaw, neck aches or earaches, you may have sleep bruxism, also known as tooth grinding.
Many people experience some extent of tooth grinding, but only about 8 percent of the population experience symptoms severe enough to warrant medical attention. If you continually experience any of the symptoms listed above, consult your dentist to help diagnose and treat this nightly nuisance. The most common treatments recommended by dentists and physicians include:
- Reducing daily stress to help relax your jaw muscles and prevent grinding.
- A custom-made night guard to cushion your teeth and protect them from damage.
- Changing your eating habits. Coffee, tea or alcohol before bed can increase your chance of nightly grinding.
- If your jaw or teeth are misaligned, your dentist may also recommend a brace to decrease grinding.
Grinding your teeth can have serious consequences if left untreated. Tooth fractures and damage to the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) in your jaw are common among people with bruxism. So if you think your teeth may not be getting a rest at night, contact your dentist right away to prevent damage to your smile.