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4 Signs You Grind Your Teeth in Your Sleep

Toothache – South Jordan, UT – Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is one of the worst habits for the health of your teeth and gums. Unfortunately, many people have a habit of grinding their teeth and don’t even realize it. If you grind your teeth at night while you sleep, you may not be aware of the problem unless you know the common effects it can have. Here are four signs you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep.

1. Waking Up With Jaw Pain or Headaches

Patients with nighttime bruxism often grind their teeth for hours at a time. This prolonged stress on the jaw and facial muscles can cause pain that doesn’t go away when you wake up. If you are frequently waking up with headaches that center around your temples, this may be a sign of grinding. You may also experience soreness or general tightness in your jaw muscles or even earaches.

While jaw pain is likely to continue until bruxism is addressed, there are a few simple exercises that can help to relieve TMJ pain or soreness from bruxism. Opening your mouth and pushing on the side of your jaw stretches the jaw muscles inward to reduce stiffness and soreness. You can also place a thin object, such as a pencil, between your teeth and slowly move your jaw side to side.

2. Wear on Dental Enamel

Teeth grinding causes a very characteristic type of wear on dental enamel. The chewing surfaces of the teeth in people with bruxism will often be very flat, and all teeth will likely be of similar length rather than varying length. This type of wear can cause the front teeth to appear too short, and you may notice that your teeth match up together in a very specific position due to repeated wear in the same areas.

When treating enamel wear from teeth grinding, dentists often have to make some compromise. It may not be possible to restore the original length of the affected teeth without disrupting the patient’s bite and making it difficult for them to close their mouth. Your dentist may recommend dental crowns to replace teeth that are particularly worn rather than attempting to restore them.

3. Sensitivity to Temperature and Pressure

Sensitivity caused by teeth grinding can be particularly problematic since the biting surfaces of the teeth are the parts that wear the most. In addition to flattening the teeth, grinding can create small cracks or chips in the teeth that expose the dentin inside them. Dentin has a high quantity of nerves that are sensitive to temperature and pressure when not protected by enamel.

4. Receding Gums

The gums and connective tissues holding the teeth in place are subjected to the same stress and force as the teeth during grinding. Grinding causes the teeth to move slightly in the socket, and over time, this can create pockets in the socket that allow bacteria to enter. Bacteria in the dental socket will cause swelling and inflammation in the gums, and eventually they will begin to recede and expose the roots of the teeth.

While gum recession may stop or even reverse after treatment for teeth grinding, years of grinding can result in extreme recession of the gums that requires surgical treatment. An oral surgeon can perform gum grafting to take soft tissue from other areas in the mouth and supplement the recessed gums.

Teeth grinding negatively impacts the health of your mouth in many ways, so you should seek treatment as soon as you become aware of the condition. Watch for these signs of nighttime teeth grinding and contact Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates for professional treatment that can keep your whole mouth healthy!