Not everyone grinds their teeth at night, and not everyone who does grind their teeth does it all the time. There are times in your life where you might be grinding your teeth and or clenching your jaw–if you are grinding because of stress–and when the stressor disappears your teeth grinding may also diminish. Unless of course you are anxiety prone, and are not taking medication to help, in which case you may continue to release stress at night through your teeth grinding.
Other causes of teeth grinding, or bruxism, can include misaligned teeth which causes a bad bite. Over time the results of such nocturnal activity includes worn tooth enamel, chipped teeth, and in severe cases, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders. Then there is sleep apnea, and certain medications such as ADHD or antidepressants, and even temporary pain such as earaches can also cause you to grind your teeth at night.
It only really becomes a problem if you are doing it every night over time. This can cause your teeth to wear down and lead to other dental problems, facial pain, and even tension headaches. In this case, your dentist may suggest wearing a protective plastic night guard while you sleep. Night guards that are made by your dentist fit carefully and specifically over your own teeth, so they are comfortable to wear.
If you feel you might be a candidate for a protective night guard, please contact one of our experienced dentists at 703-385-3800 and we will be happy to help.
Otherwise, take care to relax before bedtime, avoid caffeinated beverages as much as possible, and practice a stress reducing exercise like meditation or yoga. Taking care of your body’s health results in healthier oral health as well!