Waking up in the morning with tooth or jaw pain is not pleasant, but once you have eliminated a possible toothache at night, what is the reason for that stabbing pain in the morning? Chances are you are suffering from bruxism. But beyond this learned word, what is this disorder and what does it imply? Polysleep tells you more about it!
Clenching your teeth at night: meaning
Despite its scientific air, bruxism is, according to the Canadian Dental Association, a temporomandibular disorder that is characterized by teeth grinding or clenching of the jaws at night, but which can also occur during the day. This condition, which affects 10-20% of people, occurs when the teeth come into contact with each other unintentionally, silently or very noisily. There are 2 types of bruxism, namely the clenching of the jaws and the grinding of the lower teeth that rub against the upper teeth. The person who suffers from bruxism frequently wakes up with tooth pain at night.
What are the symptoms and when does it happen?
Facial pain (jaws, cheeks, temples and in front of the ears), headaches, accelerated wear of teeth and teeth bleeding at night are among the main symptoms of bruxism. Just before REM sleep, teeth grinding or clenching of the jaws is triggered, so the person who suffers from it has no control over the situation. While people suffering from bruxism mainly grind or rub at night, the clenching of the jaws is the most common symptom for those who experience bruxism during the day.
Bruxism should not be taken lightly, as over time it can lead to serious problems such as tooth fractures, tooth loosening, hypersensitivity and loss of tooth tissue. This is why it is important to consult quickly if you think you are clenching your teeth at night.
But how can you tell if you are, exactly?
In addition to pain and premature tooth wear, your bed partner is also a good indicator, because the clenching of teeth at night can be so intense that your partner may be awakened by the noise!
Tooth grinding at night: cause
The exact causes of bruxism are not yet known, but stress and anxiety are the main factors that can cause toothache at night. Other causes are also possible: teeth that grind at night may be a sign of excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, endocrine disorders or, according to the American Psychiatric Association, a behavioural disorder.
Prevention and treatment
To date, there is no way to treat bruxism itself; instead, the consequences of clenched teeth at night are treated, and we work more in a preventive mode. But what can be done to avoid having a toothache at night? The Ordre des dentistes du Québec recommends a variety of methods that can minimize bruxism "attacks" during the night, allowing you—and your bed partner! —to have better nights. For example, it is recommended that you avoid excessive alcohol or tobacco use before going to bed, limit noise in the bedroom, and avoid sleeping on your back as much as possible.
There are dental nightguards, designed from your dental impressions, to keep your teeth from clenching at night; talk to your dentist to learn more about these acrylic mouthguards, which protect your teeth at night—or during the day, if bruxism occurs during the day.
Various relaxation techniques and even physiotherapy can also help you limit the problems associated with bruxism. However, the most severe cases should be followed in a sleep clinic.
If you suspect that you suffer from bruxism, don't hesitate to consult your doctor or dentist, who will be able to advise you on solutions to reduce the impact of this problem on your dental health... and on your bed partner's mental health!
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