HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ASKED if you grind your teeth? You’re pretty sure that you don’t, yet somehow you’re almost positive you do. How can this be? It’s not like you wouldn’t know if you were grinding your teeth hard enough to wear them or even break them. Right?
Grinding your teeth at night has a funny name…Bruxism.
Comfort Dental would like to spend a little time talking about bruxism, which is an unconscious grinding of the teeth while sleeping. Many people experience this grinding.
Here is another funny word…parafunctional. Night teeth grind is considered a parafunctional habit because it serves no useful purpose. The common use of teeth and jaws is for eating, swallowing and speaking…not for grinding against one another while you sleep!
What Causes Bruxism? Can You Just Will Yourself to Stop?
It is thought that bruxism is related to or caused by stress, diet, sleeping habits and even the use of alcohol or other drugs.
Bruxism is unwittingly “triggered” by the inner you that makes sure you breathe, digest food, and your heart beats.
This internal engine is your autonomic nervous system. Just like you can’t decide not to digest your food for a while, you cannot will yourself not to clinch your teeth at night. Furthermore, it probably won’t wake you up. It could wake up your spouse or cat, but you’ll probably sleep right through it!
Bruxism is super chewing muscle exercises – so it is sort of like sleepwalking (or running!) on a treadmill while you sleep. The activity of nighttime grinding can actually cause your chewing muscles to become larger like a body builder! The tooth grinding that you do at nighttime is actually much stronger than any chewing or grinding you can do consciously when you are awake. (If only useful exercise could be done so easily!)
So, once you fall asleep and the gloves come off and you can grind really hard – significant tooth wear and even tooth breakage can occur. Things are only made worse for people who have acid problems due to gastric reflux or diet. This additional acid in the mouth can speed up the wear of teeth even more when grinding teeth at night.
Many people who have been grinding their teeth throughout their lifetime can have significantly shortened front teeth and worn or broken back teeth by the time they reach their 40s and 50s.
Protect Your Teeth from Clinching
There’s no way to cure bruxism. If you’re one who grinds your teeth hard at night you might consider having Dr. Brucken or Dr. Stubbs fit you for a protective appliance at night time. An appliance like this won’t stop tooth grinding, but it can protect your teeth from damage and potentially help you to grind your teeth with less intensity.
Here is a helpful video that explains further how your teeth can be protected.
Are you worried about night time tooth grinding? If you want to be evaluated Comfort Dental can help! In fact, we would like to be your Lafayette dental office! Feel free to call the office at 765-742-3100, request an appointment online or ask a question. Even if we can’t stop your teeth’s nightly exercise, we can help by adding a cushion!