Sleep bruxism, otherwise known as nighttime teeth clenching and grinding, is a sleep disorder that can affect children and adults. Although it only occurs in nearly 8 percent of adults, it is much more common with children under the age of 12. Children affected by nighttime bruxism are very likely to grow out of it on their own. When sleep bruxism does occur in adults, its telltale signs are waking up with a headache, sore jaw joints or muscles, and chipped or worn permanent teeth. However, this does not mean a person with bruxism has to show any of these symptoms. In fact, adults who grind their teeth at night have no outwardly visible signs except for the noise that happens when grinding.

If you believe you may be suffering from bruxism, you may be unsure about what to do or how to get help. This blog from your Orange City dentist Terry Soule, DDS, will answer some of the key questions about this problem.

What causes sleep bruxism?

The actual causes of bruxism in adults are relatively unknown. We know that some people are more susceptible to the disorder than others. However, stress, or having a misaligned bite can make you more susceptible to bruxism. It’s also known that most people who grind their teeth do so at night, and therefore, are unaware of this habit.

Why am I more susceptible to bruxism?

Whether it’s children or adults who suffer from nighttime teeth clenching and grinding, they suffer from similar risk factors.

These risk factors include:

  • Airway problems (such as sleep apnea, adenoid swelling, or tonsil swelling)
  • Untreated overbite or underbite issues
  • Obesity
  • Reaction to certain medications (amphetamines and antidepressants are commonly associated)
  • Stress caused from day-to-day life or changes in your life
  • As a symptom of some neurological disorders

What happens if I do nothing?

Grinding your teeth at night can be dangerous when left untreated. It can cause permanent damage to your jaw joint and muscles. It can deteriorate your teeth, even wearing them down to the nubs. In addition to the breakdown of your teeth, the slow constant grinding of your teeth also can irritate the nerves in your teeth, which can lead to intense levels of pain when chewing or cause painful reactions to hot or cold food. Severe, untreated bruxism can lead to chronic headaches and muscle sensitivity, even during the day and not just at night while the problem persists.

What can I do to stop grinding my teeth?

There are some very important steps you can take on your own to stop bruxism, such as making lifestyle changes to better manage your obesity or stress levels. You also should consult your dentist, who can diagnose any problem with your bite and provide treatment. For patients with bruxism in Deltona, Terry Soule, DDS, can help protect your teeth and jaw by providing a custom-made night guard to prevent further damage. While bruxism cannot necessarily be cured, you still can protect your teeth by wearing a custom-made night guard from your dentist.

Treating bruxism in Orange City

Knowledge is the first big step in getting your nighttime teeth grinding habit under control. Now that you’ve obtained more information about sleep bruxism, taking the leap and heading to your dentist is the next important step. Don’t let this problem continue and risk causing more harm to yourself. Contact the office of Dr. Terry Soule, DDS, at (386) 775-1552 to schedule an appointment today.

Terry Soule, DDS, has been working to better the lives of the people in the communities of Orange, City, DeBary, and Deltona for more than 10 years.