If you wake up with a headache accompanied by pain in or around your mouth, you could be grinding your teeth at night.

Bruxism is the involuntary and habitual clenching or grinding of your teeth in your sleep, and it’s a common issue in many people regardless of age. Sometimes, a little bit of teeth-clenching may not be problematic, but if the issue isn’t addressed, it can lead to other oral issues in addition to the painful symptoms like headaches, earaches, disrupted sleep, and more.

Grinding your teeth at night could also be symptomatic of bigger issues, like TMJ disorder (Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction), which affects how your jaw functions, or it can be a sign of an airway issue.

People who suffer from TMJ disorder have trouble biting and even simply opening and closing their mouths can be difficult. The reason why you might have TMJ varies and is sometimes hard to determine, but most people with it will experience some kind of teeth grinding, causing more issues.

If there is restriction in your airway it can trigger clenching and grinding as a way to activate the muscles of the head and neck to help open and stabilize the airway.  If a child is grinding their teeth you need to see a dentist and/or physician familiar with pediatric airway development.

Bruxism can cause tooth decay and breakage

The most common reason you’d want to address your teeth grinding is that over time, the constant friction can wear down your enamel. You can fracture or break your teeth, which can also affect your appearance and overall oral health.

You can receive dental procedures like dental crowns and bridges to fix fractured teeth, but prevention is definitely the best course of action in this case.

How do I stop grinding my teeth?

If you’re already experiencing some pain and visible damage to your teeth, you should visit your long beach dentist right away.

In the meantime, you can wear mouthguards while you sleep to protect your teeth from the grinding. Our Long Beach dental office can also provide custom mouthguards for optimal fit and protection.

Why you might be grinding your teeth varies from person to person, but stress is often a contributing factor for bruxism. Find ways to relieve stress, like meditation or drinking tea, and be sure to not drink alcohol or caffeine right before bed.

As mentioned earlier, airway issues can trigger it so being assessed by a dentist familiar with airway development can help give you possible solutions that can treat airway, etc.

Your dentist can work with you on ways to protect yourself from teeth grinding, as well as the best course of action to fix the damaged teeth you might have because of it.

Dr. Stephen Coates has extensive training in these topics so book your dental appointment with our Long Beach office today using our online system, or by calling 562-434-6414.