How to Tell If You Grind Your Teeth at Night
Teeth grinding and clenching, medically known as bruxism, places excess force and pressure on the teeth. Teeth grinding can lead to dental damage and other oral health complications, including TMJ disorder, a painful condition that affects the jaw joint.
Dental appliances, dental treatments, and relaxation techniques can prevent teeth grinding. Unfortunately, people don’t always seek treatment because they don’t realize they grind their teeth. People usually grind their teeth while sleeping, so how can you tell if you grind your teeth at night? Dr. John P. Goodman, whose dental practice serves Kansas City, MO, discusses the top signs that indicate teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding and clenching create a lot of tension in the jaw and facial muscles. The pressure from the clenching action frequently results in facial pain or headaches. Pain may also travel to the shoulders and neck. People who regularly experience headaches, earaches, face, neck, or shoulder pain, or tinnitus (ringing noise in the ears) are likely grinding their teeth at night.
Limited Jaw Movement
Teeth grinding is one of the most common causes of TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder is characterized by inflammation in the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull. TMJ disorder symptoms include limited jaw movement (an inability to open or close the mouth fully), jaw pain, lockjaw (the jaw gets stuck in the open or closed position), and a clicking or popping sound when opening and closing the mouth.
The teeth consist of several layers. Enamel makes up the outer layer of the teeth. Enamel is a mineral that strengthens the teeth and enables biting and chewing. Enamel makes the teeth strong, but they are still only meant to bite food. Non-food objects place excessive force and pressure on the teeth. When the teeth grind or clench against each other, it can cause dental damage. Types of dental damages that may indicate teeth grinding include:
- Worn down enamel
- Chips or cracks
- Broken or fractured teeth
- Flattened teeth
Dental damage often affects the back teeth, which sustain the most force when someone grinds the teeth.
Tooth Pain or Sensitivity
Dental damage compromises a tooth’s outer layer of enamel. Worn or damaged enamel exposes a tooth’s inner layers, which consist of sensitive nerves and tissues. When our Kansas City patients report tooth pain or increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, it is often because of dental damage, which may be a sign of teeth grinding.
Since people usually grind their teeth at night, it is an unconscious practice. Even though people are unaware of the habit, teeth grinding can disrupt relaxation and interfere with sleep. When people wake up frequently throughout the night or feel unrested in the morning, it may be due to teeth grinding.
Contact Us Today
If you have experienced any potential signs of teeth grinding, Dr. John P. Goodman can find a treatment that protects your teeth from the damaging effects of bruxism. To schedule an appointment at our Kansas City dental practice, send us a message online or call (816) 842-8585 at your earliest convenience.