Bruxism is the medical term for grinding your teeth while sleeping. People who suffer from this parasomnia are not aware they are teeth grinding and jaw clenching during the night. Though, the sound can disturb sleep for a bed partner.
Individuals with bruxism may experience daytime headaches, chipped or cracked teeth, tooth sensitivity, and jaw pain.
Symptoms of the condition may be mild to severe. If you suspect nocturnal grinding may be at the heart of your problem and it persists for more than a few days, it's time to take action. Talk with your dentist or doctor right away before the condition progresses and you experience too much pain or tooth damage.
What Causes Nocturnal Teeth Grinding?
While the scientific community has not found a definitive cause for the condition, general consensus suggests that grinding your teeth during sleep is related to emotional tensions. These may include stress (physical or mental), hyperactivity disorders, anxiety, and suppressed anger. Teeth grinding can also be a side effect of taking anti-depressants.
Treatment for the condition is centered around stopping the grinding with a nighttime mouth guard, relaxation practices, lifestyle changes, and/or pain relief.
Dentists and doctors most often recommend an oral splint to stop teeth grinding. This full or partial mouth guard is worn during sleep. It helps prevent grinding and minimizes damage to your teeth. Many sufferers experience relief when using a splint. Yet, symptoms can return when the splint is not worn.
Relaxation therapies may help reduce the stress that triggers habitual grinding. Meditation, yoga, massage, regular exercise, biofeedback training, hypnosis, and other body-calming activities can help reduce occurrences. Click for information on these and other relaxation techniques.
There are certain lifestyle habits that can help address symptoms, as well. These include getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night, establishing healthy sleep habits, and eating a well-balanced diet.
In addition, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake may also help, and will contribute to more restful sleep in general.
In limited cases, medications may be recommended to reduce anxiety that may be causing nocturnal grinding and/or treat the pain that results from bruxism. Yet, over-the-counter or prescription medicine is not the preferred method of addressing the condition and is only used on a temporary basis.
Your doctor will recommend the best course of treatment, based on your individual condition. The key is to recognize the symptoms, see your dentist or doctor, and act early.