It’s the middle of the night and all is quiet and calm – except your teeth! Teeth that rattle and crunch all night can mean aches and pains in the morning – and broken teeth in the long run. If you wake up with unexplained headaches, earaches, neck aches, facial pain or a sore jaw, nocturnal tooth grinding – called sleep bruxism – may be to blame.
National Sleep Awareness Week, held March 7-13, promotes the importance of getting a good night’s sleep – which is especially important for nighttime bruxers. Sleep deprivation, stress and misalignment of teeth can encourage unconscious tooth grinding. Grinding your teeth and clenching your jaws at night wear down your teeth and can cause tooth fractures and damage to enamel. It can also cause harm to the joint in your jaw, and aggravate temporomandibular joint disorder.
So how do you detect an unconscious behavior? The best way to diagnose sleep bruxism is with a dental visit. And once discovered, treatment can be as easy as planning time to wind down before bed so jaw muscles are less tense, or wearing a mouth guard to cushion teeth during sleep.