If you wake up in the morning with tired or tight jaw muscles and neck or face soreness, you may be grinding your teeth at night.
The reasons for teeth grinding are varied, but Dr. Brian LaBombard and his team at Airport Dental Care in Austin, Texas, have a lot of experience treating this problem.
Here are a few reasons you may grind your teeth at night — and what we can do to help.
What causes teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding (also called bruxism) is a condition that causes you to grind or clench your teeth.
Bruxism can occur unconsciously when you’re asleep (or subconsciously when you’re awake). Grinding your teeth at night is considered a sleep-related movement disorder, and you’re more likely to experience other sleep disorders, such as snoring or sleep apnea.
Mild teeth grinding may not be a problem, but a severe case (teeth grinding can exert up to 250 pounds of pure force) can lead to symptoms such as tired or tight jaw and face muscles, face soreness, dull headaches, chipped teeth, worn teeth enamel, and sleep disruption.
It can be hard to pin down the exact cause of bruxism, but risk factors include:
- High stress levels: Teeth clenching is a common reaction to stress, even when you sleep
- Personality type: More aggressive personalities are more likely to grind their teeth
- Genetics: Bruxism runs in families
- Irregular sleep: Disruptions in your sleep pattern can cause you to grind your teeth
- Lifestyle: Alcohol, smoking, and caffeine all can play a role
- Medications: Antipsychotics, amphetamines, and SSRIs can contribute to bruxism
Whatever causes you to grind your teeth, the damage is often the same without treatment: cracked or chipped teeth leading to cavities and other complications.
How to prevent teeth grinding
Treatments for bruxism can include stress management, muscle relaxers (for a short time), and Botox® injections. At Airport Dental Care, we offer night guards to prevent the damage that teeth grinding causes.
A night guard is a mouthpiece you wear as you sleep to stabilize your jaw and hold it in its natural position. It keeps your teeth from grinding and your tongue from falling backward and blocking your airway, which can cause sleep apnea.
Once you have a night guard, Dr. LaBombard and his team monitor how it fits to ensure its continued effectiveness.
If you need relief from teeth grinding, Airport Dental Care is here to help. Call our office at 512-668-9907 or book your appointment using our online scheduler today.