Do you ever catch yourself grinding your teeth without being aware of it? Of course it's generally simple enough to stop, unless you're not in a position to be aware of it. Grinding your teeth is known as bruxism, but it's nocturnal bruxism (grinding your teeth when you sleep) that has the potential to cause serious problems.
Signs You Might Grind Your Teeth
One of the key signs of nocturnal bruxism is a feeling of strained jaw muscles in the morning. They might be tender, feel tired or even slightly painful for reasons you cannot attribute to any clear cause. In extreme cases, bruxism can even result in facial swelling around your jaw. Ongoing bruxism has the ability to damage your teeth, as the excessive grinding can gradually strip the protective enamel from the tops of your teeth. If you suspect that you're grinding your teeth at night, it's important to pay a visit to a dentist rather than hope the issue will go away of its own accord.
Your dentist will perform a thorough examination, particularly to see if your dental enamel or any other part of your teeth has been compromised. This is known as dental attrition, which is excessive tooth-to-tooth contact. Any teeth that have become damaged will of course need to be treated, and your dentist will take preventative measures so that bruxism doesn't continue to damage your teeth.
How well your teeth fit together will be taken into consideration. While an uneven bite might not have caused any issues thus far, the teeth not properly closing on top of each other while you sleep can lead to grinding. Your dentist might try to achieve uniformity by reshaping certain teeth (such as reducing the length of your canine teeth). This is a minor procedure that is also known as dental contouring.
Your dentist might also wish to fabricate a custom mouthguard for you to wear as you sleep, literally adding a protective layer to your teeth and preventing you from grinding them together.
Stress can also play a role in grinding your teeth, so in order to lessen the chance of bruxism in the future, it can be prudent to take steps to reduce the level of stress in your life.
Grinding your teeth as you sleep does not only result in discomfort upon waking, but it also poses a serious risk to your overall oral health. If you believe that it's affecting you, it's important to have the matter professionally assessed so that the necessary steps can be taken.