Grinding and clenching your teeth is a reaction to stress, fear, or anger. This reaction can sometimes be repeated throughout the day and is known as bruxism. Bruxism can occur while you are awake or asleep. People are less likely to notice their teeth grinding when they are sleeping. This condition can cause severe problems with the jaw and teeth and may eventually require treatment.
What is Sleep Bruxism?
Teeth grinding during sleep is known as sleep bruxism. Bruxism while asleep and while awake are considered two different conditions, even though the actual physical action is very similar. Bruxism while awake is more typical of the two. An important thing about sleep bruxism that is much more challenging for people than bruxism while awake is that people are rarely aware that they are grinding their teeth while asleep. A sleeping person doesn't realize the strength of their bite, so they clench and grind more complex equivalent to 250 pounds of force.
Symptoms of Sleep Bruxism
The main symptom of sleep bruxism is involuntary clenching and grinding of the teeth during sleep. These teeth grinding movements are like chewing but involve more force. People with sleep bruxism can have very few episodes per night, up to 100 per night. The frequency of these episodes is often not consistent and might not occur every single night. Most people occasionally make chewing motions during sleep, but with sleep bruxism, these occur with more force and frequency. Sleep bruxism usually occurs early within the sleep cycle. Jaw and neck pain are signs of teeth grinding. Morning headaches are also potential symptoms. Unexplained tooth damage can also signify that you are grinding and clenching your teeth. Long-term consequences include significant damage to the teeth. Teeth can become eroded, broken, and painful. Implants, crowns, and fillings can become damaged as well. Teeth grinding can also cause TMJ issues and cause symptoms such as locking the jaw, difficulty chewing, jaw pain, and other complications.
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