Wednesday 23 August 2017

Dear Dr Nina: Why have I recently started to grind my teeth in my sleep?

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding, gnashing or grating teeth.
Bruxism is the medical term for grinding, gnashing or grating teeth.

Nina Byrnes

Our resident GP answers your medical queries.

Q: I’ve recently started to grind my teeth in my sleep and wake up constantly during the night because of it. Is there any way to stop this? I find my jaw is quite sore in the morning.

 

Dr Nina answers: Bruxism is the medical term for grinding, gnashing or grating teeth.

It can occur at night when asleep or during the day. Bruxism itself

is not dangerous but it can lead to chronic pain problems and

damage dentition.

Many are not aware that they grind their teeth unless others comment or their dentists advise them. Grinding may be loud enough to wake a partner or the dentist may notice that teeth are flattened, damaged or chipped. Those affected by bruxism may notice tooth pain or sensitivity. Other possible symptoms include headaches and earaches, tight jaw muscles, jaw, neck or facial soreness and, more rarely, broken sleep.

Stress or anxiety is thought to be the most common cause of bruxism. Certain medications, particularly those used in mental health disorders, may also increase the risk. Bruxism is also associated with other sleep or behavioural disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Younger children often grind their teeth — this usually settles before their adult teeth descend.

Mild bruxism requires no treatment. The first port of call should be your dentist for a full dental exam. If teeth are okay, then treating the underlying anxiety and muscle tension may help. Relaxation exercises, and identifying and soothing trigger point tenderness via massage, or possibly dry needling, may also help. Avoid activities such as chewing gum or hard sweets, as this increases jaw tension and may exacerbate symptoms.

If there is damage to teeth, a dental guard or orthodontic dental realignment may help. Rarely, muscle relaxants or Botox injections are prescribed.

I’ve recently started to grind my teeth in my sleep and wake up constantly during the night because of it. Is there any way to stop this? I find my jaw is quite sore in the morning.

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding, gnashing or grating teeth.

It can occur at night when asleep or during the day. Bruxism itself is not dangerous but it can lead to chronic pain problems and damage dentition.

Many are not aware that they grind their teeth unless others comment or their dentists advise them. Grinding may be loud enough to wake a partner or the dentist may notice that teeth are flattened, damaged or chipped. Those affected by bruxism may notice tooth pain or sensitivity. Other possible symptoms include headaches and earaches, tight jaw muscles, jaw, neck or facial soreness and, more rarely, broken sleep.

Stress or anxiety is thought to be the most common cause of bruxism. Certain medications, particularly those used in mental health disorders, may also increase the risk. Bruxism is also associated with other sleep or behavioural disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Younger children often grind their teeth — this usually settles before their adult teeth descend.

Mild bruxism requires no treatment. The first port of call should be your dentist for a full dental exam. If teeth are okay, then treating the underlying anxiety and muscle tension may help. Relaxation exercises, and identifying and soothing trigger point tenderness via massage, or possibly dry needling, may also help. Avoid activities such as chewing gum or hard sweets, as this increases jaw tension and may exacerbate symptoms.

If there is damage to teeth, a dental guard or orthodontic dental realignment may help. Rarely, muscle relaxants or Botox injections are prescribed.

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