If you’re tired of waking up with jaw pain, tightness in your neck and shoulders or headaches, you should consider a nightguard. Aches and pains in the head, neck, shoulders and jaw often stem from clenching and grinding your teeth while you sleep.
Why do I grind my teeth?
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is very common. However, excessive teeth grinding can lead to stress fractures and other dental problems if not treated.
There are several reasons why teeth grinding occurs:
- While we sleep, our brains continue reacting to stress. Our bodies respond, sometimes developing the habit of teeth grinding or clenching teeth.
- Teeth that are misaligned or missing can cause grinding as well.
- Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can be a contributing factor.
What to do about teeth grinding
If not treated, excessive grinding wears down protective tooth enamel. Without enamel, tooth structure can crack and infections can occur. In some cases, grinding loosens teeth. And, bruxism can lead to jaw pain and TMJ. If you suspect that you clench or grind your teeth at night, or if a loved one has kindly mentioned it, there are some steps you can take to protect your teeth and jaw.
Treatment options for teeth grinding include:
- A nightguard or mouth guard. This is a clear plastic piece that fits over the top or bottom teeth to protect them. There are two types of night guards and you should talk with Dr. Frahm about the best option for you.
- Custom made night guards are molded to your teeth and provide a perfect fit, allowing you to breath properly while you sleep. They are made to be durable and last for years with proper care and cleaning.
- There are also one-size-fits-all night guards available. This is a less expensive option that works for many people. But, over-the-counter nightguards can cause your bite to shift since they are not custom fitted.
- Relaxing exercises for your jaw. Certain jaw exercises help relax muscles and minimize nighttime clenching and grinding. Stretching the mouth open widely, with the lower jaw forced forward relaxes muscles.
- Avoid bad habits that train your jaws to clench. Don’t bite down on pens or pencils and avoid gum during the day, especially when you’re experiencing stress. These biting and chewing behaviors teach your brain and jaw muscles that clenching relieves stress.
If you suspect that you are grinding your teeth at night, make an appointment with Dr. Frahm. She’ll evaluate the condition of your jaw and teeth for signs of impact and wear. She’ll also help you find the right solution to improve your dental health to keep your teeth and jaw as healthy as possible.
Making an appointment with Dr. Frahm is easy. Contact us via our webform or give us a call at 831-372-8011. We are conveniently located office at 660 Camino Aguajito #201 in Monterey.