Why do we grind our teeth?
Nearly 80% of teeth grinding cases occur while sleeping. Medically termed bruxism, grinding can be associated with factors such as stress, and anxiety. Cases of bruxism can be exacerbated by an abnormal bite or missing teeth. It’s not normally harmful in acute cases but over time it can wear down the enamel and cause other oral health issues. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can also cause bruxism.
How do you know if you grind your teeth?
Due to fact that so many teeth grinding cases occur at night, it can be difficult to diagnose this common problem. With at least 25% of American’s suffering from bruxism, many more may suffer without ever noticing. The few ways that one would realize they grind their teeth at night would be if they visit a sleep clinic, or if their partner notices. Some of the symptoms of bruxism include headaches, jaw pain, and sleeping issues. If the grinding is not corrected it can lead to serious tooth damage, chronic headaches, and jaw issues. Extended grinding can cause or make your TMJ worse, and change your facial appearance.
How to stop grinding your teeth
The first step to solving this problem is be aware that you grind your teeth. The most common signal that you grind at night is a dull headache in the morning, or sore jaw. If you sleep with a partner at night they also may notice that you’re grinding. With the common causes of bruxism being stress, and sleeping disorders, you will need to treat the root cause to eliminate your nightly teeth grinding.
If stress is causing you to grind your teeth you should consult your physician to discuss ways to reduce stress. Some solutions you can implement on your own include exercising regularly, meditating, and keeping a journal to identify your stress triggers.
If a sleeping disorder is the cause of your grinding then you may need to correct the issue to treat the bruxism – this can vary depending on your disorder.
A new detection solution: the Smart Mouth Guard
At the University of Florida, Yong-Kyu Yoon has developed a smart mouth guard lined with sensors to detect if you’re grinding your teeth at night. If it does detect that you have bruxism, it will let your dentist know by Bluetooth and even can help you stop the behavior.
The idea sparked when Yoon was developing a set of dentures that would alert the dentist if the fit was improper even if the patient didn’t notice. This lead him to solving the problem of making it easier to detect bruxism which often goes unchecked.
Yoon took the thought that a larger portion of the population could be afflicted by this issue than the studies let on due lack of awareness. With sleep clinics being expensive and invasive, and the partner detection method being unreliable – he wanted to make it easier to catch the problem. Wearing his mouth guard creation would eliminate the need to go to the sleep clinic and allow for patients to detect if they have any issues grinding their teeth at night from the comfort of their own home.
The device sends all recorded information to a computer or phone via Bluetooth where it can be reviewed by the physician. Yoon says that the next iteration of the mouth guard will be aimed to notify coaches of athletes with dehydration, dangerous body temperatures, or a concussive blow to the head.
Dr. Mike Mavrostomos is passionate and top-quality comprehensive care dentist located in Bedminster, NJ whose continual pursuit of education and state-of-the-art dentistry has led to his being recognized as one of New Jersey’s Top Dentists by the New Jersey Top-Docs committee. Check out our website, reviews, & Facebook page. Connect with us and learn!