Morning light fills your bedroom, and it’s time to start your day. But you’re exhausted; maybe your jaw or head hurt, too. If this sounds like your typical morning, chances are teeth-grinding, medically called bruxism, is sabotaging your sleep.
It’s a reality for 30-40 million children and adults in the United States. In this blog, Abraham Nobel, DDS, MPH of Nobel Dental in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, CA,
Explains teeth grinding and how a simple oral appliance called a nightguard can help you recapture a good night’s sleep.
Teeth grinding 101
Simply put, teeth grinding is the action of gnashing or grinding teeth and excessive jaw clenching. Teeth grinding can occur during the daytime or at night. Still, for many sufferers, it’s an unconscious nighttime issue they only become aware of when they wake up with painful or damaging complications. Some telltale signs may indicate that you’re suffering from bruxism.
1. Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea
An estimated 90 million Americans snore periodically, while about 37 million Americans snore regularly. Although not everyone who snores has a sleep disorder, snoring is a significant symptom of the most common type of sleep disorder, called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.
OSA sufferers experience frequent breathing interruptions during the sleep cycle. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 25% of people with obstructive sleep apnea also suffer from bruxism. Multiple research studies support that people with OSA are more prone to suffer from teeth grinding than the general population.
2. Morning headaches or facial pain
Patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaw while sleeping often wake up with headaches or facial pain. It’s not bad enough that they’re sleep-deprived, but the excessive grinding and clenching stresses the muscles to the point of pain.
3. Jaw pain or TMJ
Similarly, teeth grinding and jaw clenching put additional pressure on the jaw muscles and temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This can result in jaw pain or painful jaw dysfunction, such as temporomandibular joint disorders (or TMJD). For patients suffering from TMJ, teeth grinding may worsen their condition.
4. Chipped, damaged, or worn down teeth
Chronic teeth grinding can lead to chipped, cracked, or worn down teeth and even tooth loss. If you notice that your restorations don’t seem to be holding up very well, or you are experiencing a usual number of chipped or cracked teeth, talk to your dentist so they can figure out what’s going on and how to best resolve the issue.
At Noble Dental, Dr. Nobel performs a comprehensive exam of your teeth, looking for signs of bruxism. He also checks out your jaw muscles and temporomandibular joint, checking for soreness or the telltale clicking or popping sound when opening or closing your jaw.
Depending on your situation, Dr. Nobel may recommend a nightguard to prevent further damage to your teeth, jaw muscles, or temporomandibular joint. He takes a digital scan of your mouth for the dental lab, fabricating your custom nightguard. Because it’s a custom-made oral appliance, the fit and comfort go well beyond something you can pick up at the drugstore.
If you are suffering from teeth grinding and want to learn if a nightguard can help you, schedule an appointment at Nobel Dental today.