You may grind your teeth while you sleep without even knowing it. Some people only learn that they have sleep bruxism — a condition characterized by clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth at night — because their sleeping partner has noticed the behaviour or because they’ve experienced a unique cluster of symptoms.
If you grind your teeth at night, a custom-fit mouthguard — also called a nightguard — designed and provided by a dentist near you may be a solution that may also help with a related breathing-disorder called obstructive sleep apnea as well as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction.
What are the symptoms of sleep bruxism?
Bruxism is caused by factors ranging from stress to obstructive sleep apnea. Roughly eight percent of adults, and up to 30% of children, may clench their jaw and grind their teeth as they sleep. Sleep bruxism can produce a cluster of dental and non-tooth-related symptoms.
Symptoms of sleep bruxism relating to your teeth include tooth sensitivity, tooth pain, loose teeth, chipped teeth, worn tooth enamel, flattened teeth, and damaged dental work. Other non-tooth-related symptoms of sleep bruxism are pain in the neck, face, and jaw; temple-focused headaches that resemble earaches; problems opening and closing your jaw all the way; tiredness; and damage to the inside of your cheek from biting or chewing.
Five key benefits of wearing a nightguard
Nightguards from a dentist in Dryden prevent tooth damage
A nightguard imposes a physical barrier between your top and bottom teeth to prevent them from grinding against each other even if you clench your jaw as you sleep.
Reduced jaw tension
When you clench your jaw at night, the soft joint between your lower jaw and neck experiences constant tension that can contribute to and is caused by a misalignment of that joint. Wearing a custom nightguard produced by a dentist in Dryden will hold your teeth and jaw in the appropriate position to reduce tension on your TMJ.
Wearing a nightguard may prevent or reduce headaches
Headaches that you feel in your temples almost as if they are earaches are a common symptom of sleep bruxism. Wearing a nightguard to prevent you from grinding your teeth and to reduce tension in your jaw may prevent or reduce the symptoms of those headaches.
Nightguards in Dryden can improve your sleep
Whether you know you’re doing it or not, sleep bruxism contributes to interrupted sleep and daytime fatigue. The related condition of obstructive sleep apnea, which is also related to a sub-optimal alignment of your jaw, tongue, and airway, can interrupt your breathing and sleep many times every night, with unsurprising impacts on your energy levels and health.
Wearing a nightguard from a dentist in Dryden can help restore restful sleep and daytime energy levels, and may be part of a doctor-supervised treatment plan for obstructive sleep apnea or TMJ dysfunction.
Prevent snoring and help with breathing problems
Clenching your jaw alters the shape of your airways and the passage of air as you sleep. One downside of that altered airflow and the shape of your anatomy — especially for your sleeping partner — is that it may cause you to snore. Wearing a nightguard to hold your teeth and jaw in their optimal position for airflow may reduce your snoring and restore your partner’s sleep. That can’t be a bad thing for you, either.
There is a significant overlap in the symptoms of sleep bruxism, obstructive sleep apnea, and TMJ. Symptoms that suggest the presence of any of these conditions should be discussed with your dentist and your doctor to ensure you receive the appropriate dental and medical attention. Dentists can diagnose and develop treatment plans for conditions that extend beyond your teeth. At every regular dental appointment, tell your dentist in Winnipeg about conditions affecting your teeth, jaw, mouth, face, head, neck, breathing, and sleep.
If you have any symptoms discussed here, contact your dentist and ask for their recommendations for treatment, and ask if a nightguard would help.