Many people who grind their teeth while they sleep don't become aware of the problem until they begin sharing a room with a roommate or sharing a bed with a romantic partner. Now somebody else is there to hear the squeaking and clicking noises that accompany teeth grinding.
If this describes your situation, you may have previously noticed symptoms that are now explained. For instance, people who grind their teeth during sleep may sometimes wake up with a sore jaw.
Use a combination of strategies to stop this disruptive activity. This is important, since teeth grinding may be causing damage to your teeth or may do so in the future.
Teeth grinding, medically known as bruxism, sometimes is simply a bad habit people develop while they're awake. They might find grinding their teeth to be relaxing while reading or watching TV, for instance, and eventually they don't even realize they're doing it. However, by paying attention to their behavior, they can end the habit.
In contrast, involuntarily grinding teeth while sleeping is considered a movement disorder. It's more difficult to end this behavior because it occurs when the person isn't conscious.
Your First Step
Schedule an appointment with a dentist to learn whether bruxism is having negative effects on your teeth. Some people with this disorder damage their tooth enamel and actually wear their teeth down while they're sleeping. Others don't grind often enough or with enough force to cause any damage.
If your teeth don't show signs of wear now, regular checkups with a dentist will help you monitor whether you ever need to take immediate and definitive action to stop this habit. In the meantime, you can start making progress toward ending the habit now.
Strategies to Stop Grinding Teeth During Sleep
Use Techniques to Sleep Better
It may sound odd to think that a person may not be in a full state of relaxation while sleeping, but that indeed can be the case. Using relaxation techniques before bedtime may help stop your propensity toward bruxism. Some of these techniques include taking a warm bath, avoiding watching exciting or intense TV shows, and winding down for at least an hour before going to bed.
You also may try eliminating any caffeine intake after a certain time of day. Avoid drinking alcohol before going to sleep, as it has stimulating effects. You may fall asleep quickly after having an adult beverage or two, but your sleep may not be as restful.
Stress is associated with teeth grinding, both while awake and asleep. Simple relaxation techniques may not be adequate if you're experiencing significant stress in your daily life. If you cannot substantially reduce stress triggers, having sessions with a counselor can help you learn to manage stressful situations so you aren't as physically and emotionally tense.
Wear a Mouth Guard or Splint
One important way a dentist, like those at Family Dental Care, can help is to provide a customized device that you wear while sleeping. This doesn't prevent your jaws from moving but stops your teeth from rubbing against each other.
The main issue with wearing a mouth guard is that people tend to take the device out without knowing they've done so. It takes diligence and dedication to become accustomed to wearing the guard.
You may need to try different types before you're successful. There are soft and hard materials for this equipment. Some fit over the upper teeth while others fit over the lower teeth. You may find that a certain style suits you better.
Have Your Teeth Aligned
Sometimes bruxism while sleeping is caused by teeth or a bite that is not aligned properly. A dentist can evaluate your teeth and jaw alignment and determine whether braces would be advantageous. Find out whether the problem can be corrected with clear removable braces, which are increasingly popular with adult dental patients.
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