Teeth Grinding During Sleep
People are sometimes very surprised when their dentist tells that they are grinding their teeth during sleep. People often wonder how this can be so. After all, it’s not something that many people are aware that they do.
In fact, grinding teeth during the night is a habit much more common than you might realise. The term that dentists use to describe teeth grinding, particularly nighttime grinding, is bruxism or nocturnal bruxism.
How does your dentist know that you’re grinding your teeth?
The answer is simple. Your dentist will have observed signs that grinding is occurring.
One of the signs is the presence of worn areas on the tips of the teeth. These areas, called “Wear Facets”, are very obvious to the trained dental eye! Your dentist may even show you in the mirror how your teeth tips are flattening or wearing away. You’ll notice that the flattened edges of certain upper and lower teeth will fit precisely together: a sure sign that they have been grinding against one another.
Some people grind so heavily at night that their teeth or fillings start to chip or break away. This can be very painful. It can also become quite expensive, especially if the teeth need to be repaired with crowns.
At your checkup appointments, your dentist will ask you questions about your current state of health, and may even ask you specifically about the occurrence of headaches. If you are frequently getting headaches in your temples or pains in your cheeks when you wake up, this may be a sign of nocturnal bruxism.
Some people find that their bruxism starts to affect the joints of the jaw. If a jaw joint is making crackling or grinding noises, or if it has become very tender to touch, the pressures of nocturnal bruxism may be causing strain within the jaw joints.
What will the dentist do to help you stop grinding your teeth at night
Your dentist may recommend that you wear an Occlusal Splint or Night Guard to help prevent nocturnal bruxism. This is an appliance that you wear over your teeth at night. It protects your teeth and fillings from wear and tear, and can even reduce the strain on your muscles and jaw joints.
You can learn more about Occlusal Splints here.