Do you have a problem with bruxism? If that’s an unfamiliar word, you’re not alone – but you’re definitely in good company if it’s an issue for you. That’s because, according to the medical board at Sleep Foundation, some 15% of the population – with that percentage declining to just under 10% for middle-aged adults – struggle every night with sleep bruxism.
What is bruxism, anyway?
What is it? Bruxism is the involuntary and habitual clenching of the jaw and grinding of teeth, especially when asleep. Scientists, doctors, psychologists and even oral health and sleep specialists never quite agree as to the precise cause, and what role the physical, mental and genetic factors play. Perhaps it’s just a habit, perhaps it’s a symptom of anxiety or stress, or it may be an automatic reaction to sleep arousal – such as from snoring and sleep apnoea.
If you suspect you’re grappling with excessive teeth grinding during sleep, monitor yourself for the following common signs of bruxism:
- Your sleep partner hears grinding
- You notice worn teeth and perhaps occasional chipping.
- Damage inside your cheeks
- Tooth sensitivity due to worn enamel
- Tired, aching, tight jaw muscles
- Jaw, neck, face or even ear pain
- Headache often located at the temples
- Disrupted sleep.
If you’re tempted to dismiss these common teeth grinding symptoms, be aware that you can do serious or even permanent damage to your oral, dental, and general health. Underlying psychological issues can also be a cause, or contribute to bruxism and should also not be neglected.
The good news is that there are plenty of things you can start doing right now that should help with the problem of grinding teeth during sleep.
Easy to say, harder to do – but it’s impossible to ignore that most cases of bruxism are stress and anxiety-related. The best time to implement deliberate relaxation strategies for teeth grinding during sleep is therefore right before bedtime. Some take a bath, others read a few chapters of a book, and we also recommend meditation. Just feel that tension slip away.
Before relaxing, though, why not work out? Sweating it out is a great stress-reliever.
Are you one of the bruxism sufferers who know about it because of that sore jaw when you wake up? Take a moment here and there to specifically and completely relax those tired muscles – and give them a massage while you’re at it.
4. Be mindful
You may be grinding teeth unconsciously, but are you doing it consciously during the day as well? Some people aren’t even aware that they are – so become mindful about it. If you catch yourself out when those jaw muscles start to tighten up, deliberately drop that bottom jaw and take a deep breath. With a bit of luck, you’ll learn to unconsciously chill out during sleep, too.
5. Wear a mouthguard
A range of specially designed mouthguards – particularly ones that are perfectly moulded for your exact mouth and jaw – can be extremely helpful for preventing that tooth-on-tooth friction and easing your jaw muscles’ workload. Mouthguards such as this provide great protection to dental fillings, crowns etc. as most of the damage happens from bruxism while asleep.
A large number of people who have bruxism also suffer from sleep apnoea and snoring. And for an added bonus, these sorts of custom-made oral appliances are also now regarded as one of the very best and simplest treatments for snoring and sleep apnoea.
Over 50% of people who regularly clench and grind their teeth also suffer from snoring and sleep apnoea. Most people who have sleep apnoea are not aware they have this condition. The telltale signs are regular snoring along with waking unrefreshed and a degree of sleepiness during the day. If you have these symptoms it is important for your health to have a sleep test as this is the only way to diagnose sleep apnoea.
We have treated many patients in our practice for snoring and sleep apnoea who had recently been treated separately for bruxism, only to discover that the splint they have for bruxism needed to be replaced with an oral appliance for snoring, sleep apnoea and bruxism.
If you also snore and have sleep apnoea
The good news is that there are custom made appliances that are proven and extremely effective in overcoming snoring and sleep apnoea. They have the added benefit of protecting teeth and dental work from the damaging forces of bruxism.
Can SleepWise help with your bruxism or sleep apnoea and snoring?
Did you know SleepWise Clinic has fitted more than 16,000 patients and clients with the thinnest, strongest, most effective and comfortable oral appliance on the market. SleepWise Clinic’s oral appliances are designed and manufactured in Australia and supported by a unique Satisfaction Guarantee.
If you snore or think you have sleep apnoea SleepWise can organise a sleep test, done in the comfort of your home. The sleep test results will determine which is the best treatment for you.
Get in touch with SleepWise’s friendly & experienced experts today.