Woman sleeping in attic in the sunlight

What to Know about Clenching and Grinding Teeth While Sleeping

Bruxism is the involuntary or unconscious grinding, clenching, or tapping of your teeth. There are two main risks that come with this: poor sleep and damage to your teeth and jaw.

The Damage Bruxism Can Do

First, poor sleep is more significant than just being a bit groggy the next morning. All of the real benefits that come from sleep occur during deep sleep. These include the release of human growth hormone (HGH), repairing skin, improving memory, burning fat, building muscle, and strengthening your immune system to fight off illness and disease. If you don’t get high-quality sleep, these essential processes remain incomplete.

Just because you are in bed for eight hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re well-rested. Unless you got a solid eight hours of quality deep sleep, you won’t see the above benefits in full.

Second, night after night of clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth will eventually add up. Usually, this begins to manifest as tooth sensitivity and decay, as well as permanent damage and pain to the jaw itself.

The Causes of Bruxism

The exact cause hasn’t been identified yet, but there are a number of correlations that are believed to be potential causes of bruxism/grinding teeth.

In children, grinding happens when teeth first appear, and again once the permanent teeth begin to grow. Once the adult teeth are fully grown, though, it typically stops.

Grinding and clenching both seem to occur more frequently when stressed. Studies have found that before episodes of bruxism begin brain activity and heart rate both rise.

Sleep apnea can trigger bouts of bruxism, as well. One of the newer standards of care for grinding teeth is to have a sleep study. In the case that one’s bruxism is caused by sleep apnea, it is much more effective to directly treat the source of the problem to address all the problems both sleep apnea and bruxism cause.

Sleep Apnea and Bruxism

For people who have bruxism caused by sleep apnea, managing the first issue can help the latter. We recommend discussing with your dentist to determine whether or not a mouthguard is appropriate for you and treating your symptoms on a case-by-case basis.

Steps to Take if You Grind Your Teeth

First, you need to talk to your dentist. Your dentist can examine your teeth for signs of grinding and evaluate whether there may be other underlying issues. They may also recommend visiting a sleep specialist, if necessary.

If you think you may be experiencing bruxism, contact us today for an appointment to keep your teeth, jaw, and overall health in good shape.