Do you often wake up with jaw soreness and painful facial muscles? Do you feel that your teeth have become mobile when you wake up? If the answer to these questions is a yes, you might be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaws during sleep or in the daytime. While teeth grinding and clenching can seriously affect one’s oral health and physical well-being, the good news is that this problem is treatable. This blog explains everything you need to know about teeth grinding and offers tips to overcome it. 

What is Teeth Grinding and Clenching?

According to the American Dental Association 1, teeth grinding – scientifically known as bruxism – is a condition when one grinds their teeth excessively, either during the daytime or in sleep. The American Academy of Oral Medicine 2 defines two types of bruxism: day and sleep bruxism. 

  •  Daytime Bruxism – this type typically occurs during periods of stress, concentration, and anger. However, it happens without the person being aware of this condition. 
  • Sleep Bruxism – this is an involuntary type of bruxism that occurs during sleep. Although the exact cause is unknown, research indicates that it mainly occurs due to increased brain activity during sleep. At the same time, other factors such as stress, alcohol intake, and intake of anti-depressant medications are also causative factors. 

On the other hand, clenching is when one holds their teeth together and tightens their jaws for prolonged durations. Although clenching harms teeth and jaw joints less than bruxism, it can still cause significant damage if left untreated. 

What are the Consequences of Teeth Grinding and Clenching?

Teeth grinding and clenching can significantly affect one’s oral and physical health:

  • Tooth Wear – excessive grinding damages the outer protective enamel layer of the teeth, resulting in complications such as tooth sensitivity and dental cavities. 
  • Difficult Chewing and Impaired Digestion – prolonged teeth grinding results in the flattening of the biting surfaces of the teeth. As a result, the teeth cannot efficiently break down the food into smaller pieces, affecting digestion and causing malnutrition and generalized weakness. 
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders – during teeth grinding and clenching, there is excessive pressure on the jaw joints. Unfortunately, continued pressure on these joints can cause a group of disorders called temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs), which cause issues such as difficult or painful mouth opening, clicking or popping sounds, and even jaw joint dislocation. 
  • Tooth Misalignment – bruxism can also cause misalignment of the teeth. 

What can I do to stop Teeth Grinding?

The management of teeth grinding involves identifying the underlying cause. 

Daytime Bruxism 

If one does daytime grinding, it can be effectively managed with behavioral modifications, such as limiting alcohol and tobacco intake, eating a healthy diet, and eliminating stress-inducing factors. However, in some cases, psychological intervention may also be needed to treat the underlying stressors. 

Sleep Bruxism 

On the other hand, the management of sleep bruxism is slightly more complex. Your Gramercy Park Dentist will diagnose sleep bruxism by taking a detailed history and performing a clinical examination. Typically, the most common sign of sleep bruxism is the complaint of enlarged facial muscles and painful jaws when one wakes up. In addition, if one suffers from a sleep disorder, it can also be the underlying cause of sleep bruxism. 

  • Nightguards – sleep bruxism cannot be managed alone with behavioral modifications. Your New York Dentist will also have to undertake additional measures to treat it. For example, your dentist will give you a nightguard, an appliance worn over the teeth that protects them from damage due to grinding and clenching. Nightguards also provide symptomatic relief from the jaw and muscle pain due to clenching and bruxism. 
  • Medication – Your Manhattan dentist may also prescribe muscle relaxants to be taken before sleep. This medication will help prevent muscle soreness in the morning. 
  • Stress Relief – if the primary cause of bruxism is stress, your dentist may consult a Manhattan psychologist to identify the underlying issue. 

Are nightguards necessary to stop grinding my teeth? 

A nightguard, also called a bite guard or a mouthguard, is an appliance made of plastic that covers your teeth and protects them from wear and damage due to teeth grinding. A nightguard is typically needed in the case of sleep bruxism when behavioral changes alone may not provide a complete solution. Your Gramercy Park Dentist will prescribe a nightguard after a thorough exam and history-taking. 

Do I have to get my nightguard done by a dentist? 

Nightguards are of two types: stock and custom nightguards. Stock nightguards come in different sizes and are easily available in the markets. A common type of stock nightguards is the “boil and bite.” This nightguard is first boiled in water to make it soft. Afterward, one should bite on them immediately so that they acquire the shape of the teeth. Unfortunately, these stock nightguards, although cheaper, can cause more harm than good because they are made precisely according to the size of one’s teeth. 

On the other, a custom-made nightguard is made by a New York Dentist, which precisely fits over one’s teeth, preventing them from wear and relieving pressure on the jaw joints. Hence, if one is suffering from bruxism, getting their nightguards made professionally by a Gramercy Park Dentist is always a good idea. 

Teeth grinding is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of this condition and only learn about it from their loved ones or during a dental checkup. So, if you feel that you or your partner grinds their teeth, don’t waste time and consult your New York Dentist without delay. Dr. David Toksoy’s practice in Manhattan offers effective, cutting-edge solutions for complex dental issues such s bruxism and teeth clenching. So, please book an appointment with Dr. Toksoy | Studio Dental NY today and safeguard your oral health and physical well-being.