Teeth Grinding At Night?
Chronic teeth grinding at night is called sleep bruxism.
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is defined as repetitive jaw muscle activity characterized by clenching and/or grinding of teeth that happens involuntarily.
To brux or bruxing means to clench and/or grind your teeth.
This condition can occur during the day or while sleeping and affects adults and children.
Causes of Bruxism
- Abnormal alignment of the jaw
- Situational anxiety
- Intense concentration
- Certain type of antidepressant medication
Bruxism Can Lead to Other Problems
- Temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders
- Tooth wear and restoration failure
Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Facial pain
- Sensitive teeth
- Tension in the face and neck
- Locking of the jaw
- Jaw pain
- Popping or clicking of the TMJ
Types of Bruxism
- Awake bruxism occurs during awake hours.
- Sleep bruxism occurs during sleep. Most people are unaware of their teeth grinding and clenching at night, which can apply substantial pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and lead to TMJ disorders.
Causes of Sleep Bruxism
- Occurs in about 13 percent of adults
- Cause is unknown and probably multi-factorial
- Evidence suggests controlled by social factors like stress and anxiety
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Diagnosing Sleep Bruxism
- Dental examination shows worn down teeth
- Trial interventions
- Electrophysiological tools to confirm diagnosis
Management of Sleep Bruxism
- No known cures but it can go away on its own
- Night guards for tooth protection
- Pain relief medications (topical and oral)
- Jaw exercises
- Gentle massage to reduce stress in the jaw area
- Stress management
- Behavior modification
- Relaxation exercises
- Avoid hard foods like nuts and popcorn
- Be cautious with sticky foods that are difficult to chew like dried fruits.
- Do not chew gum
- Sleep on your back
- Use a neck support pillow
While there is no cure to stop teeth grinding and clenching, jaw pain relief and management can reduce frequency and relieve symptoms. There are jaw and tongue exercises that can improve the range of motion of the jaw and relax the muscles involved in teeth grinding. Please check out TJz™ Blog for jaw exercises and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @tjzbalm for educational posts about jaw pain management.
Massage to the muscles of the head and neck can relieve pain and muscle tension related to the TMJ. This can be performed by a professional, or with proper training, you can do it yourself at home. Our affiliate and TMJ-focused massage therapist Katie Pudhorodsky has a step-by step video course to show you how to relieve head, neck and jaw pain by incorporating her knowledge of treating headaches and TMD using trigger point therapy and myofascial release.
Self Help to Relieve Head, Neck & Jaw Pain
Katie offers a free sample video training where you can start learning about one jaw muscle, the pains it can create when tight, how to start massaging and stretching it, as well as one habit to adjust now. Sign up on her site HelpHeadPain.com
Meditation apps are available and may be helpful to reduce anxiety before bedtime. Meditation takes practice and can be used in conjunction with other self-care techniques. Yoga practice may reduce overall depression. Talking to a therapist, partner or trusted friend about issues that are bothering you may also help reduce stress.
At bedtime, apply TJz Balm™, organic night time topical pain relief balm to soothe the jaw, neck and behind the ears. This OTC medication provides effective topical pain relief, yet it’s gentle enough to use on the sensitive area around the jaw. It’s important to watch the How To Use video and read the Drug Facts Panel before use.