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Why do I grind my teeth at night?

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is extremely common, especially at night when people are sleeping. But, why? Why do people grind their teeth at night? Although we do not completely understand why we grind our teeth, we believe that stimuli that may arouse the brain during sleep may contribute to bruxism, such as daily stress, anxiety, a painful medical condition, and obstructive sleep apnea. Considered a sleep movement disorder by the Academy of Sleep Medicine, nocturnal bruxism is similar to other physical sleep phenomena such as bedwetting or sleep walking.

Is bruxism a new occurrence?

No! Humans have been gnashing and grinding their teeth together for centuries. In fact, it is even mentioned in the Old Testament and New Testament. 

What's significant about bruxism?

Grinding your teeth nightly can result in worn dentition, headaches, broken fillings, facial and jaw pain and even changes in your facial appearance. Wait what? Yes, you read that correctly. Grinding your teeth nightly involves working out those facial muscles and may result in them presenting more prominently in your face. Additionally, sometimes, bruxism may be a sign of untreated obstructive sleep apnea. In some individuals with untreated sleep apnea, their body attempts to open the airway by moving their jaw through grinding. Nonetheless, it is important to note that not all bruxism is related to sleep apnea.

How is bruxism treated?

Since bruxism is not completely understood, treating bruxism can sometimes be extremely difficult. Nevertheless, dentists often fabricate oral devices to treat the side effects of bruxism. In other words, these oral appliances protect your teeth from fracturing or wear as well as act as a cushion for your jaw and facial muscles to help prevent the development of orofacial pain, TMJ related conditions and headaches. Additionally, your dentist may review certain behavioral modification strategies and sleep hygiene tips that may help. If your sleep bruxism is related to obstructive sleep apnea, an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea may help in treating your bruxism. Furthermore, recent studies have suggested that botox injections may be indicated and in certain patients are effective in treating bruxism.

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