When Nighttime Becomes the Grind — Bruxism

Sleep Apnea Newton MAJust about everyone, except maybe Bill Murray, grinds his or her teeth at times. It’s a fact of life that our job, spouse, kids, and other stuff can make us a little keyed up. At night, while sleeping, this can lead to shifting our jaw back and forth and grinding our teeth or otherwise clenching our teeth. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, isn’t really any big deal — you have to clench your teeth occasionally when the VP from the home office comes to visit your office. The problem occurs when a person grinds his or her teeth regularly. That can create some real problems with your teeth.

Why do we do it?

Although some people grind their teeth due to stress or anxiety during the daytime, more often than not it occurs during sleep. More than stress, bruxism usually has its basis in an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also happen during sleep apnea.

So, what’s the big deal with grinding your teeth?

Your teeth are strong, but they can be broken down by chronic grinding. Bruxism can lead to fracturing, loosening, and eventual loss of teeth. The grinding can wear the teeth down to the point where they have little value. In these cases, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, even full dentures may be in the grinder’s future.

Severe bruxism also affects your jaws, leading to temporomandibular joint disorder. As the teeth are ground down, your bite can change, leading to even more problems.

How do I know if I’m a grinder?

Because most grinding occurs while we sleep, most people don’t know they do it. A dead giveaway is a sore jaw or a dull headache when you wake up. Also, the person next to you in bed can usually hear it.

How do we fix it?

At Cosmetic Dentistry Center, we can stop most cases of bruxism with night guards. We make each night guard custom for each patient, based on impressions we make of your bite. Night guards don’t restrict breathing, but generally stop grinding.

Do you wake up with sore jaws many mornings? You may be grinding your teeth at night. Come see us at Cosmetic Dentistry Center and we’ll look for the telltale signs and get you into a protective mouth guard. Call us at (617) 965-7673.

Posted in: Snoring and Sleep Apnea, TMJ

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