Did you know that when you chew, your molars sustain the equivalent of 150 pounds of pressure? When you grind your teeth at night, called nocturnal or sleep bruxism, the pressure increases to 250 pounds.
Sustaining this pressure night after night leads to health problems that may seem like a mystery because you can’t connect them to sleep bruxism. At least, you can’t unless someone in your household notices that you grind your teeth while you sleep.
At Le Dentistry & Associates in Norcross, Georgia, Phuong Le, DMD, Uyen Hoang, DMD, and our skilled team of providers can spot the signs of nocturnal teeth grinding even when you’re not aware there’s a problem. Then they provide customized treatment to protect your teeth and prevent problems caused by sleep bruxism.
About nocturnal teeth grinding
Teeth grinding while sleeping is more likely to occur in children, but it can appear at any age. While you sleep, you have numerous episodes that resemble chewing and clenching movements.
People with sleep bruxism have a higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea, anxiety, stress, ADHD, and sleep disorders such as sleepwalking.
Here are six health problems caused by sleep bruxism:
Bruxism is one of the top causes of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. The TMJ connects your jaw to your skull and is responsible for opening and closing your mouth.
The pressure of teeth grinding may cause problems inside the joint or affect the muscles that move the joint. Either way, TMJ disorder causes jaw pain and clicking, as well as muscle spasms. As TMJ disorder worsens, the joint gets hard to move and can lock in place.
Regional aches and pain
Your jaw and face share most of the same nerves and muscles. When you clench your teeth and put pressure on your jaw, that pressure affects all the surrounding structures. As a result, nighttime bruxism often causes headaches, facial pain, and earaches (even though there’s nothing wrong with your ears).
As you clench your teeth, you also tighten the muscles that run down your neck. Before long, you can end up with neck pain and stiffness, a condition you probably won’t associate with bruxism.
Cheek and tongue irritation
Some people wake in the morning with sore cheeks or a tender tongue. This happens when the chewing movement of bruxism irritates the tissues or when you accidently clench the tissues between your grinding teeth.
Tooth damage isn’t a surprising health problem — you’d expect teeth grinding to have dire consequences for your teeth — but it’s a big concern that needs to be on any list about bruxism.
Regular teeth grinding wears down tooth enamel and makes the teeth more susceptible to cavities. The pressure pushes teeth out of alignment or makes an existing bite problem worse.
A bad bite means that your teeth don’t meet properly when you chew. As a result, some teeth put up with more pressure than they’re built to tolerate, while others don’t bear their full share of the load. The teeth under more stress end up cracking or chipping.
Changes in your appearance
Broken or chipped teeth caused by teeth grinding affect your appearance. But sleep bruxism causes another change that you won’t expect.
Though it’s not common, untreated bruxism may lead to a condition called masticatory muscle hypertrophy. This condition occurs when the muscles that move your jaw get thicker and larger.
When your jaw muscles enlarge, it changes the appearance of your face, often making it look square or giving you a threatening appearance
If you have any symptoms of nocturnal teeth clenching, don’t wait to get relief. Contact the team at Le Dentistry & Associates can provide the help you need.