“I wake up every morning with a headache and sore jaws. I sometimes clench my teeth during the day. Could I be grinding my teeth at night, too?”
Just about everyone clenches or grinds their teeth sometimes. It is a parafunctional habit that the body uses to help relieve stress. In fact, up to 70% of bruxing (the technical term for clenching and grinding your teeth) is triggered by stress.
What is bruxing? Bruxing is a condition in which you (usually unknowingly) grind or clench your teeth. Bruxing may occur while you are awake, or it can involve unconscious clenching and grinding of the teeth while you are asleep. Some people will grind their teeth up to forty minutes during every hour of sleep. The noise can be loud enough to be heard by other people in the house. Sleep bruxism is often classified as a type of sleep disorder, and can often be diagnosed with other sleep disturbances.
Did you know that:
- normal chewing places 68 pounds of pressure per square inch on your molars?
- deliberately clenching produces 150 pounds per square inch?
- unconsciously grinding at night can produce up to 900 pounds per square inch? That can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time!
What are some of the signs and symptoms of clenching and grinding your teeth?
- Dull headache or sore jaws when you wake up
- Neck, ear, or facial pain
- Sensitive teeth
- Worn, fractured, loose, or chipped teeth
- Damaged restorations
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
If you know that you clench or grind your teeth, it is important that you see your dental healthcare professional to discuss your options before you develop serious complications. A frequently-used early-intervention therapy entails the making of a simple custom-made acrylic mouth guard that you wear at night to protect your top teeth from grinding with your bottom teeth. Worn regularly, you may be able to alleviate the many side effects of bruxing and prevent TMD and the loss of teeth.