The Reason Behind Your Clenching Jaw At NightNovember 27, 2020
Have you ever woken up with a tight and sore jaw? Have you ever had your sleep disrupted because of loud teeth and jaw clenching? Your clenching jaw at night can be one of the symptoms of Bruxism or teeth grinding. And chances are, you might not know it right away.
Occasional teeth grinding or clenching jaw at night is typically common due to stress and anxiety and does not pose any harm. But when done frequently, it can cause damage to the teeth and can be related to other health issues like sleep apnea, which you can also read in the blogs of Melbourne Dental Sleep clinic.
This article will tell you the common cause of teeth grinding (medically called Bruxism), how it is related to sleep apnea, and the ways to prevent your jaw from clenching or teeth grinding.
What is Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)?
Teeth grinding or Bruxism is when you unconsciously clench or grind your teeth and jaw. It can occur when you are awake or during sleep. The two types of Bruxism are Awake Bruxism and Sleep Bruxism. Awake Bruxism occurs while the person is conscious, and it may be due to stress, anger, tension, anxiety, or frustration. It could also possibly be a developed habit of the person during deep concentration or their natural coping mechanism with overwhelming emotions. Sleep Bruxism, on the other hand, happens during the person is unconscious or asleep. People who grind their teeth or clench their jaw while asleep are more prone to have other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. And because they are sleeping, the person may also be unaware of their condition until further complications develop.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
There is no known reason for what causes Bruxism. Experts say that it may be due to factors involving physical well-being, habits, and genes. To some people, jaw clenching and teeth grinding is common and mostly caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. In most cases, stress and anxiety may trigger this condition as well. While some don’t require treatment, frequent teeth grinding may lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth, and other complications. That is why it’s essential to know the possible signs and common symptoms to seek the experts before it’s too late.
What Are The Symptoms?
Jaw and Face Pain
If you have Sleep Bruxism, this is one of the common ways to know why. You will feel pain around the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The temporomandibular joint is what connects your lower jaw (mandible) to your skull. You may feel this pain when opening and closing your mouth, moving your jaw. Because of overnight and overtime clenching of the jaw, the jaw and facial muscles start to present fatigue or inflammation that produces pain or discomfort.
Tired or Tight Jaw Muscles
Because of severe jaw clenching, your jaw muscles will start to tighten and worn out. It may limit the range of motion when you try to open your mouth, and you will feel discomfort around your facial muscles, head, neck, and ears. The pain may vary from achy, throbbing, or more severe pain. You will also notice a clicking sound as your jaw joint locks. Prolonged pain like this in the jaw and surrounding muscles can lead to a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
Increased Teeth Sensitivity and Pain
Severe teeth grinding can worn-out teeth. It breaks down the outer coating of the teeth or enamel causing it to increased sensitivity to hot and cold food. Some of your teeth may also show signs of chipping, breaking, cracks, and fractures. In extreme cases, damaged teeth might need extraction.
Jaw joint pain can cause discomfort in many parts of the body, not just around the facial muscles but the ears as well. The temporomandibular joint is very close to the ear canal. So when you experience issues and discomfort around your temporomandibular joint, chances are you will also feel pain around your ears.
As your temporomandibular joint experiences pain and discomfort that affects your facial muscles, ears, neck, and head, it causes dull headaches that can start around the temple to the back of the head. This headache can also be a sinus type headache or a worst, a migraine.
People who snore or have a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), are more likely to suffer jaw clenching or teeth grinding during sleep.
If you snore or have a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you’re more likely to grind your teeth while you sleep. This type of sleep disorder interrupts your breathing while you sleep, causing you to wake up abruptly.
What is Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is when your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. One of the common symptoms of sleep apnea is when a person loudly snores during sleep. The most common form of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea that occurs when throat muscles relax, causing the person to stop breathing during sleep. Studies have shown that sleep apnea gives rise to episodes of teeth grinding. The theory is that teeth grinding occurs as a response to the stoppage and pauses of breath that occurs because of OSA.
Who Are At Risk?
People who are prone to stress. Teeth grinding or jaw clenching may be a person’s coping mechanism to stress, anxiety, anger, and frustration.
People who have an aggressive or hyperactive personality type. Aggressiveness and competitiveness may increase your risk of Bruxism.
People who take medications and other substances. Teeth grinding may also be an uncommon side effect of taking certain antidepressants and recreational drugs, smoking tobacco, and drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol.
People with other disorders. There are other disorders that can be related to Bruxism, such as gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
People who have a history of Bruxism in the family. Teeth grinding or jaw clenching is believed to have something to do with genetics, as it tends to occur in families. If you know a member of your family who suffers from Bruxism, chances are, you are too.
Young children. Teeth grinding is common in young children. It tends to happen after children’s baby/adult teeth first appear but usually stops by adulthood after the adult teeth fully appear.
What Are The Ways To Prevent Jaw Clenching?
Learn to relax. Stress and anxiety are some of the most known and common reasons why people clench their jaw or grind their teeth. You can do some exercises to relieve stress, such as yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises.
Massage your face and jaw. A simple massage around your facial muscles and jaw joints will help reduce the tension and tightness on your facial muscles and jaw joints.
Avoid certain food and drinks. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks may worsen the effect of teeth grinding. Chewy foods, such as gum, should be avoided as well. Avoiding chewy food will give your jaw a break.
Wear a Mouth Guard or Mouth Splint. If you know that you have Bruxism, seek your dentist to prepare you a custom-fit mouthguard for you. Though it won’t stop you from clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, it will still protect your teeth from wear and tear.
Teeth grinding or jaw clenching, although very common to some, is not to be easily dismissed, especially if it causes damage to the teeth and severe pain to the jaw. Seek the experts for professional help if needed.