For people who wake up with an achy jaw or a headache, if they notice that their jaw pops and clicks when they yawn or open their mouths too wide – there must be some teeth grinding going on at night. While teeth grinding may not be a severe dental problem, it can cause severe misalignment of teeth and can promote gum disease.
Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding almost always occurs at night. While it has been linked with stress, it can also be caused by sleep disorders or mechanical problems with the teeth, such as missing teeth. If the problem is mild, the dentist will keep an eye on the wearing of the enamel. For serious cases, the dentist may prescribe a mouth guard to wear at night to protect the teeth.
If bruxism is caused by misaligned or broken teeth, dentists will suggest some treatments to correct the problem with crowns or braces. If it is caused by stress and anxiety however, it is a good idea to identify the stress triggers and find ways to relax including jaw-specific therapy, meditation and exercise. Muscle relaxants have helped some people control the problem.
In many cases, teeth grinding is not caused by any of the factors above. It can be a side effect of Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Certain types of medications, including antidepressants can lead to bruxism too.
For people suffering from teeth grinding, they should ensure they follow a good dental care routine before suing their mouth guards at night. In addition to this, they should visit their dentist regularly so that the level of damage to the enamel can be checked on regularly.