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Nighttime teeth grinding, or sleep bruxism, can be annoying for anyone that may be trying to sleep in your vicinity. If you sleep alone or if no one says anything, you may not even know that you grind your teeth at night until you look for a cause of the symptoms.

Once you begin to suspect that you grind your teeth, visit your dentist to find out more about diagnosis and treatment. Knowing the following may help you understand what to expect.

The Causes of Bruxism May Vary

Bruxism can be related to stress and fatigue. Cigarette smoking, alcohol, and certain medications have also been linked to increased risk of teeth grinding. New research has shown that sleep apnea is present in a large number of bruxism cases, with the teeth grinding being related to a natural effort by the body to open up blocked airways.

Bruxism Could Start at Any Time

Bruxism affects about eight percent of adults and 33 percent of children. The habit of grinding the teeth at night is more common in those with a family history of the issue, but can affect anyone. Teeth grinding can also start at any point in your life, particularly after a physically traumatic event that affects the alignment of the jaw or teeth.

Untreated Bruxism Could Damage Your Teeth

Grinding the teeth night after night could cause wear on the teeth and damage the enamel. In some cases, grinding can cause the teeth to chip or crack. Additionally, teeth grinding can affect the muscles and surrounding structures, causing muscle and joint pain in the jaws and earaches.

Bruxism Affects Your Sleep Quality

When you clench your teeth and begin to grind them, your body is shaken up and you are either pulled from or prevented from falling into deep sleep. Since teeth grinding recurs as the night goes on, your natural sleep cycles are affected and your sleep quality is reduced. There are a myriad of health problems that can stem from poor sleep quality, so it is important to address the problem quickly.

Treatments for Bruxism Are Being Rethought

In the past, a mouth guard was the common treatment for bruxism. With the introduction of sleep apnea as a potential cause of some cases of bruxism, this is being rethought. A mouth guard can further obstruct the airways. If sleep apnea is suspected, this root cause is often treated instead of the bruxism itself.

If bruxism is caused by stress or medications, re-evaluating medications and changing life situations that cause stress may help to stop the teeth grinding. If a misalignment in the jaw is found, correcting the alignment may help to stop the issue.

If you suspect that you may be grinding your teeth at night, contact a dentist in Orlando today.