Did you wake up with neck pain this morning? Does your jaw hurt too?
If you regularly wake up with these symptoms, chances are you may be grinding your teeth as you sleep. Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding can be caused by many factors, but can result in poorer quality sleep and of course, those awful morning headaches.
Many dental practitioners who see patients with regular jaw pain can create a personalised device to prevent the nocturnal grinding of teeth and thus stop the associated discomfort.
If you suspect you are a nocturnal grinder, it is important that you seek help from your medical care team; if left too long, constant grinding can damage the surface of the teeth, leading to the formation of cracks, chips and even infections. It is also important to explore exactly what is causing you to grind your teeth at night and your dentist in Sydney CBD will be able to help you with this.
What are the most common causes of nocturnal grinding?
Temporomandibular joint disorder
If your upper and lower jaws do not fit together properly when your mouth is closed, you are at a higher risk for both temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and bruxism.
As we fall asleep, the muscles surrounding our lower jaw relaxes, causing it to fall backwards. If the jaws are not perfectly aligned, the body tries to compensate by pulling the lower jaw forward and grinding the teeth against each other.
If your dentist in Sydney CBD suspects TMJ as the cause of your grinding, they will often fit you with a personalised mouthguard, to prevent the lower jaw falling back, while also protecting the surface of the teeth.
Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are on the rise in society and unfortunately, as a result, so is tooth grinding.
When an individual is stressed or anxious, muscles throughout the body can become tense. Even as the individual falls asleep, these muscles can remain in a tense state, which can cause teeth to rub against each other during the night.
Do you suspect that you are overworked, stressed or anxious?
Try a night-time regime of listening to relaxing music, meditating or reading a book. These will calm your nerves before bed and hopefully, knock that nocturnal grinding on the head.
It is truly an unfortunate coincidence that many modern medications designed to help people sleep, or to manage mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, can also cause tooth grinding.
Of course, the good news is that this makes it easier to identify the trigger; if you only began grinding your teeth after you started taking an anti-anxiety medication or a sedative, then the diagnostic cause of bruxism is straightforward.
However, you will have to contact both your prescribing doctor and your dentist to try and reach a compromise. If you require your current medication to function and are experiencing no other ill effects, then it may be worth investing in a custom fitted mouthguard to wear at night.
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