It’s the middle of the night, and once again, you are awake when you know you should be sleeping. Why? You were grinding your teeth again, and this time, you somehow managed to chomp down and possibly caused some damage. Your jaw and teeth ache and, worse, you suspect you may have chipped a tooth. Yet, two big, glaring question remains. Why are you grinding your teeth and most important, how do you stop it?
There are three main causes of teeth grinding.
- Anxiety or stress
- Crooked or missing teeth
- Sleep disorder
If your teeth-grinding wakes you at night, count yourself lucky that you have made yourself aware of the problem. Most people who grind nightly are unaware unless a partner tells them. Often, the only symptoms are a sore jaw and a headache, but tooth damage can occur as well. Once you know you grind, the next question is how to stop it, and there are a few ways to do this.
Stress can do a lot to your body. We’re talking everything from weight gain, ill health, to teeth grinding. So, if you have a lot on your mind, or your feeling anxious for any reason, it’s best to seek professional counsel for a solution. Keep in mind, though, that stress isn’t the only factor. Sometimes, what you drank last night plays a role as well.
There’s a song about alcohol consumption. It goes something along the lines of slick shakes and apple pies … wait. That’s the wrong song. All jokes aside, though, alcohol can do more harm than good, especially when it comes to grinding. We know that may not be the news you wanted to hear.
Have you ever read medication warnings about how alcohol consumption may intensify the effects? The same idea applies to teeth grinding. It’s best to ban the booze, but if you plan to drink anyway, limit yourself, stop early and know that your grinding that night may intensify.
Alcohol, like other substances or medications, increases your risk of grinding as well as the intensity. So, what you put into your body does matter.
Know Your Meds
Speaking of medication, your medicine cabinet may hold the key to your grinding. That’s because some medications and other substances like caffeine or tobacco can increase your risk of teeth grinding, according to the Mayo Clinic. So, one easy way to find out if your meds are making you grind is by talking to your doctor and pharmacist. If you find the culprit, your doctor can help you find a solution for grinding that’s right for you to protect your smile.
Guard Your Smile
Your smile matters. It tells others more about you than you realize, so protecting your teeth from damage is important. Sometimes, stopping the grind is a matter of adding a little protection, literally. Mouthguards come in many varieties and can fit most budgets and can prevent you from grinding while also protecting your ‘chompers’.
When you grind, you wear down your teeth. Sometimes, you can even crack or chip a tooth during a grinding session. So, if you grind, it’s best to have some form of oral protection to protect your teeth. If all else fails and you can’t stop the grind, see your healthcare provider to rule out other problems like a more serious sleep disorder.
Pinpoint Sleep Problems
The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that a whopping 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, the majority being women. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can impact your health in many ways including heart health, stroke, diabetes, teeth grinding and more. So, if you’re still grinding in your sleep despite attempts to correct it, check with your doctor. If sleep apnea is the cause, it should be addressed to improve your sleep quality, your health and your teeth grinding.
Your smile and sleep quality are important. Your smile affects things like your self-confidence and external appearance.
So, if you discover that you’re grinding your teeth while you sleep, it’s time to get to the root cause to stop or prevent the problem. Always seek professional advice. Your tooth grinding problem may be a simple fix like a change in diet or adding a mouth guard. Yet, it’s best to be cautious and rule out other more serious health concerns. So, eliminate the grind and catch more beautiful Zzz.