You know that brushing your teeth daily and getting regular checkups are key to a strong smile, but they’re also important habits for your overall health. And knowing this, you have a diligent daily routine to take care of your oral health. But what you might not realize is that once you go to sleep, your teeth could be in real danger even while you’re dreaming.
Approximately 8% of adults in the US grind their teeth while they sleep and pay for it the next morning. If you’re one of the millions suffering from this unconscious condition, it’s time to get the expert treatment you need to find lasting relief.
At K Street Dental & Orthodontic Group, our team of sleep dentistry specialists wants to put you back in the driver’s seat when it comes to your oral health, and give your teeth the 24-hour care they deserve.
The basics of teeth grinding
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is exactly that — a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth. When it occurs at night, it’s referred to as sleep bruxism.
It’s normal for you to grind or clench your teeth now and then throughout the day and night, but when it becomes chronic, you can start to develop a slew of side effects and complications.
The exact cause of sleep bruxism isn’t clear, but there are a few risk factors that contribute to your chronic grinding. If you have high levels of anxiety and stress, consume lots of alcohol and/or caffeine, smoke cigarettes, or suffer from other sleep disorders like sleep apnea, your chances of developing sleep bruxism increase. Even certain medications can set you up for a night of constant grinding.
Warning signs of sleep bruxism
Often, your body lets you know that you’re grinding your teeth long before you step into our office. Consider these common symptoms of sleep bruxism.
Ringing in your ears
When you grind your teeth, you put an inordinate amount of stress on the joint that holds your jaw in place. This joint, known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), sits just in front of your ears. Teeth grinding that lasts all night strains this joint, which can affect the bones and muscles in your ears.
Do you wake up and go through the day with an unexplainable headache? That throbbing in your noggin could be a sign that you’re grinding your teeth at night and overworking the muscles in your head, neck, and jaw.
Because the muscles in your face and jaw are working overtime, it’s possible to end up with pain and soreness all over. The constant tension can also make it difficult for you to open and close your jaw the next day.
Complications of sleep bruxism
It might be tempting to slough off the side effects and manage the discomfort with some over-the-counter painkillers, but leaving sleep bruxism untreated can severely impact your health and wellbeing.
Besides struggling through each day with tension headaches and facial and jaw pain, you can do serious damage to your teeth. They can become flattened, chipped, or even loose.
The enamel breaks down after hours of teeth grinding, leaving you vulnerable to conditions that cause tooth sensitivity and decay. You also run the risk of damaging your crowns and other restorative measures already applied.
Treating your sleep bruxism
Fortunately, treatment for this oral problem is simple. Our dentists create a customized oral appliance that you wear at night to act as a cushion between your upper and lower sets of teeth. We also recommend certain lifestyle adjustments like managing stress, getting more exercise, and quitting smoking.
There’s no reason to spend another day feeling less than your best. If you’re tired of the frustrating symptoms and are ready to get a full night of restful sleep, come see our sleep dentistry experts. Call either of our offices or schedule an appointment online today.