Losing teeth while you sleep?

Losing your teeth while you sleep might sound like the stuff of nightmares, but for lots of people, it’s a very real reality. 

(Not in one night though, don’t worry, there is hope!)

On an almost daily basis, we see patients with worn teeth directly related to clenching or grinding their teeth at night.

 The worst bit?  They have no idea, because there are no symptoms or pain.

The culprit?  “Bruxism”.

Usually known as “teeth grinding”, bruxism is common, and affects people of all ages.

And when it gets chronic, that’s when the problems start, so it’s important to be aware of the issue, and what you can do about it.

So, first up, what causes Bruxism?

1.    Stress and anxiety.  Grinding teeth can be a subconscious response to stressors, and it can happen more regularly when you’re less in control of your mouth (i.e. when you’re asleep).

2.    Dental misalignment.  Irregularities in your tooth alignment or bite can contribute to bruxism, because when your teeth don’t align properly, you’re more likely to excessively grind or clench to find a comfortable position.

3.    Sleep disorders.  If you’ve got sleep apnea or similar, bruxism is more likely.

4.    Lifestyle.  Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and recreational drug use can all exacerbate bruxism symptoms.

What ARE the symptoms?

Identifying bruxism isn’t straightforward, but the common signs are:

1.    Teeth grinding.  Obviously!

2.    Jaw pain.  If you wake up with soreness or pain in your jaw muscles, particularly if it’s accompanied by tension headaches or earaches, bruxism could well be the culprit.

3.    Tooth sensitivity.  If you’ve got sensitive or painful teeth, especially in the morning, you could be suffering from bruxism.

4.    Worn enamel.  Visible wear and tear on the chewing surfaces of your teeth is another sign.

What could happen if you don’t do anything?

Well, left unchecked, bruxism can cause big problems, including:

1.    Tooth damage. Worn tooth enamel, tooth sensitivity, fractures, or even tooth loss are all possible.

2.    Jaw disorders.  Because bruxism affects the jaw, developing jaw disorders is a possibility, resulting in pain, stiffness and difficulty opening or closing your mouth.

3.    Headaches and facial pain.  Bruxism-related muscle tension can trigger tension headaches, facial pain, and discomfort in your temples or jaw.

4.    Disrupted sleep.  Your sleep can also be disrupted, leading to fatigue and daytime drowsiness. 

Okay, so it needs sorting.  What should I do about bruxism?

First and foremost, come in and see us – there are plenty of things we can recommend, including a mouthguard or splint to protect your teeth from damage.

Where dental alignment is contributing to bruxism, orthodontic treatment or dental adjustments could help to correct bite abnormalities.

In addition, there are other non-dental solutions to try and stop the problem at source, including stress reduction strategies and lifestyle adjustments, and some medications too.

The big takeaway for me?  If you’ve got any concerns about bruxism, or the health of your mouth or teeth, please make an appointment, and we’ll do all we can to help you.