Around 1 in 10 people grind their teeth while they sleep, with many of these being unaware that they are doing it. Known as ‘bruxism’, the act of teeth grinding can be potentially damaging for your oral health as well as causing other health issues. But luckily, there are a few things you can do to prevent damage from teeth grinding as you sleep. In this article, we’ll take you through ways to detect bruxism and what you can do to prevent it.
What is bruxism?
Commonly known as ‘tooth-grinding’, the term ‘bruxism’ refers to the excessive and unconscious grinding of teeth or clenching of jaw. Though this can happen while you’re awake, it’s more common while people are asleep.
Grinding your teeth while asleep occasionally, is normal and won’t cause long lasting damage, but if it becomes more frequent, it’s important to have it addressed and monitored to maintain your oral health.
What causes bruxism?
There are several factors that cause sleep bruxism. These include sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnoea, neurological disorders such as anxiety or depressive disorders, periods of increased stress, digestion issues, genetics or the consumption of food or beverage that can cause acid reflux or that contain high levels of caffeine.
What are the signs and symptoms of bruxism?
As people with sleep bruxism won’t be aware of their condition while it’s happening, sleep bruxism symptoms are often spotted by people who regularly co-sleep with them – or in drastic cases, by the sleeper themselves when they wake up and notice visible tooth damage or impacts.
The most common symptoms and indicators of sleep bruxism are jaw pain, headaches that cause pangs around the temple, clicking of jaw joints, issues with chewing (including hypersensitivity, fatigue, or tenderness), tongue pain, earaches, or dental symptoms such as tooth pain, enamel erosion or chipped teeth. In severe cases, teeth can even become loosened because of sleep bruxism.
How to prevent bruxism
If you recognise any of the above symptoms and think you might have sleep bruxism, there are plenty of ways to seek help and address the issue. For starters, assess any underlying health conditions you may have to see if there’s a correlation between them and your bruxism. Then, consider implementing a structured sleep routine to help improve your quality of sleep. This could include setting a regular sleep time, limiting screen time before bed, doing a few relaxing activities before lights out, and making your bedroom as cosy and inviting as possible.
Another fantastic way to help prevent sleep bruxism is to be fitted for a mouthguard that you can wear every night while sleeping. These devices will protect your teeth as you sleep and can be customised to help reduce your specific sleep bruxism symptoms.