Did you know that nighttime tooth-grinding can leave you with long-term tooth and jaw damage?
Bruxism, or grinding your teeth, is a common ailment that most people brush off as merely annoying. Apart from the long-term effects, habitual tooth-grinding is a clear warning light of internalized stress that should be addressed.
If you want to know how to tell if you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep, how it can affect you, and what you can do to stop it, read on.
3 Signs You Grind Your Teeth
Recognizing that you grind your teeth in your sleep is the first step to being able to take action. Apart from your partner telling you that they hear you, how do you know if you grind your teeth? There are three main signs to warn you:
1. Damage to the Inside of Your Cheeks or Tongue
The soft tissue on the inside of your cheeks is vulnerable to the gnashing of your teeth. The same goes for your tongue. Both can get in the way when you’re chewing, but waking up to cheek or tongue damage is a sure sign of bruxism.
2. Painful or Locked Jaw
Tooth-grinding and jaw clenching go hand-in-hand. Grinding your teeth puts strain on the temporomandibular (TMJ) joint and the surrounding muscles. The TMJ connects your jawbone to your skull, allows you to open and close your mouth, and move your jaw from side to side.
Severe cramping in this joint can cause the muscles in the jaw to spasm, a condition also known as lockjaw. Lockjaw is difficult to treat and affects eating, drinking, talking, and hygiene.
3. Morning Headaches
Do you find yourself waking up with a headache? Sleep is meant to be restoring and you should wake up feeling refreshed. However, if you find yourself crawling out of bed with dull headaches, concentrated mostly in your temples, you may well be grinding your teeth through the night.
Usually, tooth-grinding tension headaches will lift within half an hour of waking. Headaches without other symptoms of tooth grinding can be caused by sleep apnea. Headaches combined with other grinding symptoms are likely caused by tooth grinding.
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth at Night
Reducing stress will help minimize nighttime clenching. You can try meditation, yoga, talk therapy, or exercise.
Invest in a custom mouth guard to protect your teeth. One of the big benefits of a custom mouth guard is that it reduces pain and tension in your TMJ.
Specific tongue and jaw muscle exercises can help break the teeth grinding habit, too.
Nighttime Is For Sleep, Not Teeth Grinding
Grinding your teeth doesn’t have to be a problem forever. You can reclaim a good night’s sleep when you get to the bottom of what’s causing your clenching. Stop teeth grinding and say good-bye to damaged teeth, an aching jaw, a chewed-up mouth, and a dull, achy headache.
If you found this article helpful, look up our other health-related posts to improve the quality of your health and your life.