If you suffer from a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnoea, or even simply snoring, you’re more likely to grind your teeth while sleeping. Other sleep-related issues which promote restlessness or possibly even trouble breathing while asleep could also cause this to happen, such as talking in your sleep, increased movement like kicking, sleep paralysis or even semi-conscious hallucinations.
Anxiety and stress are the most common causes for bruxism, or teeth grinding, with around 70% of cases occurring as a result of this. Stress and anxiety will often impact your quality of sleep, particularly when job-related, therefore bruxism will likely take place while asleep.
There is also evidence to suggest that certain lifestyle aspects could cause you to begin subconscious teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Drinking alcohol, smoking and use of recreational drugs, and excessive drinking of liquids with high caffeine levels could all increase the possibility of teeth grinding. These factors may also lead to the condition worsening.
The impact of bruxism can be problematic for both your oral and physical health. As it’s a condition that is difficult to identify – mainly as many aren’t even aware that they are even grinding their teeth in the first place – it’s important to know what to look out for.
Regarding oral health, bruxism could lead to significant wearing down of teeth, which will inevitably result in the teeth fracturing, or tooth loss. There is also a possibility of developing inflammation in the gums, and eventual gum recession.
What many don’t realise, is that there are multiple physical issues that can occur as a result of teeth grinding. Sufferers may be more prone to headaches, pain and stiffness in the shoulders and earache. There is also the possibility of facial myalgia (pain in the face), as well as limited movement of the mouth, and further disruption to your sleeping pattern,
Risk of TMJ
Temporomandibular joint discomfort or TMJD, is also a common outcome of bruxism. The temporomandibular joint is the connecting joint between the jaw and the skull. Excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching could lead to a severe amount of tenderness in this joint or even lock-jaw. You may also experience a grating sensation or even a clicking sound when moving your mouth. The joint is covered by cartilage and separated by a shock-absorbing disk, overtime; however, this cartilage could become damaged, and the disc eroded. If pain associated with TMJ becomes persistent, consult with a doctor or dentist as soon as possible to find a suitable solution.
There are some treatments available to tackle the causes and effects of bruxism, from orthodontic work to psychological treatments like hypnosis. MADs, or mandibular advancement devices, are typically used to help combat issues with snoring and sleep apnoea; however, they can also be an effective tool at tackling teeth grinding and clenching while sleeping.