Do you wake up with a sore jaw or headaches? Chances are you may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night. Nighttime teeth grinding, also known as sleep bruxism, is a movement disorder that affects 30 to 40 million adults and children in the United States, so you are not alone.
Nighttime grinding can cause headaches, jaw muscle aches, enlarged facial muscles, pain and stiffness in the shoulders and neck, tooth damage, and even tooth loss. While the exact cause of sleep bruxism is unknown, many different factors seem to contribute to nighttime teeth grinding. Determining your underlying cause if often the first step in treatment.
Stress Contributes to Teeth Grinding at Night
Researchers believe that stress is a major contributor to nighttime teeth grinding, or sleep bruxism. Studies have shown that those with bruxism show increased night grinding activity in times of high stress.
A study in 2010 looked at how specific stress factors correlated with teeth grinding activity. They discovered significant correlations between nighttime grinding and stress from daily life, problems at work, fatigue, and physical problems. In addition, those that coped with stress by ‘escape’ showed a higher incidence of sleep bruxism. Researchers concluded that those with high daily stress or those with negative stress-coping skills were more likely to grind their teeth at night.
Your Teeth Can Cause Nighttime Grinding
Dental problems, or malocclusions, are another major contributor to nighttime teeth grinding. When your teeth align correctly, they allow the joint to sit supported with the muscles in a relaxed state while you sleep. Misaligned or crooked teeth can affect this alignment, often putting a strain on the temporomandibular joint and the muscles.
In 2012, researchers looked at the connection between malocclusions in preschool children and bruxism. They discovered that there was a significant relationship between primary molar relationships, irritating dental conditions, such as cavities, and the occurrence of nighttime teeth grinding in children.
Medical Conditions Contribute to Teeth Grinding at Night
Certain medical conditions can contribute to nighttime teeth grinding as well. Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and sleep apnea all show a connection to bruxism.
No matter what is at the root of your nighttime teeth grinding, wearing a grinding guard, such as the Custom Flexible Super Hard Dental Night Guard from SportingSmiles can help protect your teeth from damage and reduce morning symptoms, such as headaches.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Research has shown a strong connection between Parkinson’s and nighttime teeth grinding, as well as the occurrence of temporomandibular pain.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that causes disruption in breathing during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea may snore loudly and awake tired. This disruption in sleep has been connected to increased nighttime teeth grinding. A 2004 study looked at 69 children with sleep apnea and bruxism. The children all received adenotonsillectomy to treat the sleep apnea. After the surgery, sleep apnea symptoms resolved and, while 11.8 percent of the children still experienced bruxism, that number went down from 45.6 percent before surgery.
Medications Could be the Cause of Grinding
The medications you are taking may contribute to your nighttime teeth grinding. Medications that affect the serotonin and dopamine levels in your body can lead to bruxism. The most common drugs connected to nighttime teeth grinding are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, such as Effexor, Pristiq, and Cymbalta also contribute to bruxism. The good news is, medication additions or changes can often stop the nighttime grinding.
In The Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers showed a connection between common SSRI antidepressant medications and bruxism. However, when the medication was changed to the non-SSRI medication Buspar, the patient’s bruxism symptoms disappeared.
Lifestyle Choices Can Affect Teeth Grinding
Unfortunately, how you live your life can also contribute to your teeth grinding at night. Studies have shown a strong connection between bruxism and alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. A 2106 study showed that sleep bruxism is highly associated with alcohol and tobacco use, with users being 2 times more likely to grind their teeth. Those who drank more than eight cups of coffee per day were 1.5 times more likely to experience nighttime teeth grinding.
Nightguards Can Really Make a Difference
The good news is, that no matter what the cause, you can help relieve pain and stop dental damage from teeth grinding with a nightguard. At SportingSmiles, we offer custom-made teeth grinding guards designed to fit snug and comfortable in your mouth. These guards provide a cushion between your teeth, stopping damage to the tooth’s enamel. They also provide a cushion, relieving jaw strain.
To find out more about how night guards can help you reduce your symptoms and help save your teeth, visit SportingSmiles today.