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Teeth Grinding At Night

Updated on July 23, 2013

Did You Know Teeth Grinding At Night Is Called Sleep Bruxism?

Teeth grinding at night is also known as sleep bruxism. Not only that but if the grinding and jaw clenching continues for a while, then it can have drastic implications, as it can lead to the damage of your temporomandular joint.

Also known as TMJ disorder.

Throughout this page, you'll find a collection of information that I've collated on the subject since finding out that I've been teeth grinding at night. The steps are noted as well on how to prevent damage to your teeth enamel too, as well as a bunch more information on the topic.

The journey started a while back when I was bothered with frequent migraines. Then I find out that teeth grinding causes migraines.

Teeth Grinding and Migraines
Teeth Grinding and Migraines

How does teeth grinding cause migraines?

There's a lot of questions about teeth grinding that not everyone knows the answer to. Like how teeth grinding causes migraines, or at the very least, they contribute to you having chronic headaches.

I looked into this and found out that within your jaw muscles, you have a nerve that's called the trigeminal nerve. It's a nerve that's connected to your temporalis muscle, located in your lower jaw.

You may or may not have heard of this condition called TMJ. (Tempormandular Joint Disorder). This is a condition that's also caused by these nerves.

The migraines that are caused by teeth grinding, at night mostly, by pressure being applied to the trigeminal nerve. It happens when the blood vessels enlarge and put pressure on that nerve. The part in your lower jaw. Which you may also be bothered by facial pain around that region, because of this.

Which is one of the symptoms of teeth grinding at night.

Now you might wonder...

Did You Know Teeth Grinding Can Cause Migraines?

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Why Do I Grind My Teeth At Night?

What causes me to grind my teeth
What causes me to grind my teeth

Well, that I won't be able to shed any light on, however I can tell you the reason I found out how I grind my teeth at night, and that's mainly due to high stress levels.

When I started looking into teeth grinding in sleep, I was surprised to find that there's an estimated 50% of people across the USA who grind their teeth at night during their sleep.

That's a lot of people and a lot of money on dental problems caused by this. I know the expense it causes me just on a partial denture repair, so you're probably looking to find out the same as me when it comes to ways to prevent teeth grinding at night, or at least to minimize the damage caused.

Not to mention to avoid the migraine or chronic headaches that's brought on too.

They're probably the worst part as it makes it extremely hard to get through the day and then there's the sleeping problems attached to that which will only add to the problem.

Most people don't find out there's a problem until they take a trip to the dentist when the teeth grinding and jaw clenching symptoms are noticed by a dentist.

So...

Prevent grinding teeth
Prevent grinding teeth

How Do I Prevent Teeth Grinding At Night?

I know that's what I was wondering and it wasn't my dentist that diagnosed that I was grinding my teeth at night. It was the cosmetic denture repair technician, when I had to have the plate repaired.

(Again!)

It was happening quite frequent and he was able to tell by the damage to the dental plate that it was being caused by teeth grinding.

From there, I went on to look more into it. Obviously because it was beginning to get expensive. I had heard of sleep bruxism before but hadn't really looked in depth at the topic as it wasn't confirmed or anything that that's what my problem was.

In fact, it's while I was looking into the grinding teeth scenario when I came across some information about how migraines are caused by teeth grinding.

It also highlighted the problem where a mis-diagnosis of migraines can make it more difficult to find acure for teeth grinding.

At least, for folks to find...

damage prevention from teeth grinding
damage prevention from teeth grinding

Ways to prevent dental damage from teeth grinding

For the last couple of years, I've even had appointments with neurologists to get to the root cause of why I was having frequent migraines. Eventually, medicating me to prevent migraines and chronic headaches. Which as you may know, the more medication you're on, the more of a chance there is for being affected by the side effects of those medications.

I can't even recall what the pills were to control the migraines. They done the job and did prevent migraines for a while, but like most solutions to these problems, they're short term fixes.

They don't solve the root cause of the problem.

Treating the root cause of teeth grinding - Prevent migraines and other symptoms of TMJ

Treating the root cause of sleep bruxism
Treating the root cause of sleep bruxism

For those of you who don't know this, TMJ is a condition that's caused as a result of jaw clenching and grinding your teeth. At night it's almost impossible to know you're doing it unless your partner notices it and tells you in the morning.

Otherwise, you'll more than likely just wake up in the morning feeling a sort of stiff neck, some jaw pain, tenderness around your face and a thumper of a headache.

That's not always going to be the case though. Well, at least you'll not have all those symptoms all at the same time.

While it's hard to eliminate teeth grinding at night, you can take preventative measures to minimize the cosmetic damage to your teeth by using a tooth bite plate.

This is where...

Mouth Guards For Teeth Grinding Come in handy

As you'll see below there's a few options of mouth guards on sale at amazon, which I didn't think I'd be able to. To buy mouth guards through a dentist it can be a bit on the expensive side. Mostly because they're made to measure.

Which is great if you have the finances to afford a custom mouth guard.

That's one of the reasons I prefer to use the Amazon site to buy products. It's also handy to hear the view points of others who have purchased mouth guards and offered their opinion on how it's helped them or not.

Feel free to look around and see if any of them might be able to help prevent dental damage from teeth grinding in your sleep.

I'd also like to point out to those of you who have dentures...Don't sleep with them in. That's one way to reduce the cost of having them repaired, as obvious as that sounds. That's going to prevent you damaging your denture. There's still the problem of damaging your other teeth though, which is where bite plates and mouth guards can help.

Using mouth guards for teeth grinding is still only a preventative measure though.

For me I want to know...

How To Stop Teeth Grinding At Night

Stop teeth grinding at night
Stop teeth grinding at night

Sleep bruxism is the name given to teeth grinding at night. As you will probably have noticed already, it causes a lot of problems, besides the dental ones. From the jaw pain, the stiff necks, the sleep disturbances etc.

From what I understand of the condition it's contributed to by high levels of stress. That would make sense for me as I'm nearly always stressing over something.

That's life.

So the perfect solution to be able to stop teeth grinding at night, would be to eliminate the stress.

I know for myself that's probably never going to happen.

So the next best thing is to manage the stress levels.

Coincidentally, Bruxism is more common in people in the age groups of 20 to 40 years old. A typical age where stress is heightened with such busy lifestyles.

Exercise To Treat Sleep Bruxism
Exercise To Treat Sleep Bruxism

Other Ways To Treat Sleep Bruxism

Another useful way to treat sleep bruxism is through exercise. Now this one I have to say that I have found this to be true as lately I've been out doing a bit of walking. Well, I should say a lot.

With the great weather we've had recently, I've taken the liberty of exploring the outdoors. Where I live is pretty rural. Middle of the countryside, or as others say, the middle of nowhere.

In the surrounding areas, there's quite a few local walks.

With the weather being good, I've gotten out and a few of us took to the hills and went walking along the trails.

It's quite exhausting when you're not used to it.

Anyway, I've found that since then, the pain seems to have subdued in the mornings. So it could be that the walking has helped to relax the facial muscles and sort of act as sleep bruxism cure.

Although a cure is more over rated as I'd need to keep that up everyday to prevent teeth grinding at night. So it's more of another temporary fix.

That's one of the tips I came across claiming to be able to cure sleep bruxism. I don't see as a cure though, like I mentioned, because that would mean having to do that everyday.

What would be more of a treatment for TMJ is to do some sort of exercise everyday. Although, don't do it to close to going to bed as it's more than likely to waken you up, rather than tire you out. That's from experience I found that out.

Doing exercise on the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus.

Relaxation Sounds To Reduce Stress Levels Can Also Treat TMJ Pain

Another recommended way for reducing stress levels is to use those soothing sound recording.

sleep related bruxism
sleep related bruxism

Sleep Related Bruxism And Sleep Apnea

During the time I spent looking into bruxism, I came across a news article that relayed that there seems to be a link between bruxism and sleep apnea.

I just found this to be interesting. I haven't got sleep apnea but I do have some trouble sleeping most nights. Probably going back to the stress problem again.

Anyway, I just found it interesting that the report should highlight teeth grinding as being a bruxism related apnea problem.

So if you know that sleep apnea is a problem for you then you might want to speak to your doctor about nocturnal teeth grinding. They may be able to shed more light on the issue than I can here.

Let's delve in and discuss what TMJ is so you have a better understanding of how to treat TMJ pain effectively.

What Is TMJ Disorder

What Is TMJ Disorder
What Is TMJ Disorder

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. This is the joint which connects your lower jaw to your skull.

It's this muscle that is needed for controlling your mouth movements. For to open your mouth, the temporomandibular joint controls the movements needed.

When that is damaged, which could be as a result of teeth grinding weakening the muscle, it becomes sore for you to open and close your mouth.

On top of that you might also experience pain if your jaw locks up. That can one of the TMJ disorder symptoms.

Symptoms of TMJ
Symptoms of TMJ

Symptoms Of TMJ

I know this started off about how teeth grinding at night causes migraines or chronic headaches and it's kind of went into a lot of other topics surrounding it. From teeth grinding, to sleep bruxism, to TMJ disorder specialists, so you'll probably want to know what the symptoms of TMJ are.

This isn't here to frighten anyone into thinking that their temperomandular joint is playing up and your going to need TMJ surgery or anything as scary as that. It's more of a collaboration of the research into the medical field surrounding what causes teeth grinding at night, leading to the lifestyle changes that it brings.

So don't panic if you know you're teeth grinding at night, as chances are that's probably all that's wrong. You just need to make a couple of changes to your lifestyle. Like I said earlier about relaxation techniques to help reduce your stress levels as well as a bit of exercise.

For TMJ symptoms things are a bit more serious and if your dentist hasn't spotted these a TMJ disorder probably isn't your problem. From what I've read on it anyway...I'm not an expert so you should ask your dentist first if you are concerned.

These are the symptoms of TMJ that I've came across

  • Pain around your jaw muscles
  • Facial nerves can be quite sensitive
  • Poor Dental Health
  • Stiffness around your jaw
  • Tiredness (related to teeth grinding at night disrupting your sleep)
  • Your jaw may lock up
  • Simple things like yawning can be painful
  • Earaches
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with your balance
  • You might experience a clicking or a popping sound (similar to people cracking their knuckles) when you open and close your mouth

The pain may also stem from your jaw area to the surrounding areas, resulting in neck pain, shoulder pain and also facial pain can be quite common.

causes of TMJ disorder
causes of TMJ disorder

What Causes TMJ Pain?

That was another little something that I found myself investigating. Can you tell I'm the curious type?

Anyway, what I found out was even the simplest of things that puts emphasis on the tempormandular joint like excessive chewing of gum can lead to problems down the road.

In line with that, larger chunks of food that take a great deal of chewing can result in damage to your TMJ. Resulting in pain. That'll be why I was getting told all the time to cut my food instead of biting into it. I used to be ravenous when I was younger and just got tucked into the grub.

Should've listened!

Anyway, even biting your nails can cause TMJ pain. When you think about it, it sort of makes sense as you're clamping down your teeth using that joint to apply the pressure and bite the nail. Yeah, I'm a nail biter and I know it's disgusting. I try not to though. Just force of habit.

One of the TMJ causes I came across I don't really understand. It's claimed that speech habits can result in TMJ pain. It might be that the only speech impediment I used to have was a lisp. That didn't involve accidental teeth grinding or jaw clenching. So there might be a speech habit you have that could result in TMJ pain.

If you have, share your thoughts in the comments section and let us know what it is. It's intriguing to think that the way you speak can cause you pain around the jaw.

I find that quite weird. It'll probably make sense when I hear what it is.

The other cause of TMJ pain I've already mentioned. That's the unconscious jaw movements. That'll be the ones that happens through teeth grinding at night when you're asleep.

On occasions TMJ braces are thought to be contributing factor if the bite is a little bit off. It can result in a sort of malocclusion.

TMJ jaw pain treatment
TMJ jaw pain treatment

TMJ Jaw Pain Treatment

This is something of a tip that's no use to me as it's a shower I have in the house, however for those of you who have a bath then it's claimed that taking a bath a short-time before bedtime is supposed to help with treating TMJ pain.

Like I said, it's a shower I have so I can't tell you whether that helps or not. Although I would have to say that even if I could, I don't think I would try that as I found when the bath was there that it would tend to make me more awake. Therefore affecting my sleep. You might be different though.

If you do give that a try, as a way to either treat TMJ pain associated with teeth grinding at night...

Share below how you got on.

Care to tell us your story of how to treat TMJ? Share below

Heat Therapy Is Probably The Best Way For TMJ Pain Treatment

Sometimes the simplest solution is often the best though and I was surprised to see this as a useful tip as it seems so obvious.

Since the TMJ pain comes from the temporamandular joint, then it's safe to assume that it's muscle pain.

The first thing I do with any sort of pain is use either hot or cold therapy treatment. I don't know how many times I've pulled a muscle and used a cold bag of peas to ease the pain. Then there's the heat therapy.

I think the only time I've used that has been for back pain. It's a heat therapy pad that goes in the microwave. You place it wherever your pain is at and it eases. At least when I've used it before that's the way I went about it.

For easing TMJ pain, the same applies. You take a heat therapy pad and place it on your jaw. You should start to feel the pain ease pretty soon.

TMJ Specialist
TMJ Specialist

How A TMJ Specialist can help

One thing I did find interesting was that there are people who specifically specialize in TMJ. They'd be the best people to see if you find that your TMJ disorder is getting out of control.

There are people who have reported some really miserable stories about how TMJ disorder has disrupted their lives in many ways.

It's an unpleasant condition to live with and I'm really glad that mine isn't as severe as some of those horrors that I've read about.

In fact, apart from teeth grinding at night and the stiff neck in the morning, the slight jaw pain, (in my case anyway), I would say my problem is pretty bearable. I can sort mine out with a bit of exercise, reducing my stress levels and I think I'll probably try a couple of the mouth exercises that's more for treating TMJ disorder pain, than it is for sleep bruxism treatment.

Anyway, if you run a search for a TMJ specialist you'll probably find somewhere near you that has some expertise in that field. You'd probably find it best to speak things over with your dentist first though as a TMJ specialist can be quite costly.

However, if it helps you alleviate some of the TMJ pain, then it's going to be worth it.

A second option is to find out what others have done from someone who's qualified to speak about how to treat TMJ disorder and I would say, none other than Sandra Carter would be the best person to seek advice from on the subject.

I know the time it took me looking into this subject and Sandra spent years of her life devoted to finding out about holistic remedies for treating TMJ disorder.

If You've Read This Far...

...you'll probably have noticed that I've kinda jumped the gun a bit. When I first starting looking into how teeth grinding causes migraines, it led me into a lot of other information on different subjects. TMJ disorder being one of them.

The purpose of this page is to collate the information from the research into the causes of teeth grinding at night, which led me to find out that it's called sleep bruxism. Which is related to TMJ disorder.

With the time it took me to find out about how everything comes together...a page like this would definitely have helped speed up finding out more about teeth grinding at night and how migraines can happen as a result of it.

I'd love to know if this is the case. So if you feel this has helped you learn more about the topic, you can share your thoughts below.

Do you know more about sleep bruxism, TMJ disorder and teeth grinding than you first did before your visit?

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...Or any other sleep bruxism treatment you've found to be effective as well as how to manage any TMJ pain you've suffered from.

Share your own stories below about how to stop teeth grinding at night.

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    • robert2704 lm profile image
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      robert2704 lm 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey Jeremy, great tip there. Not heard of Bowen therapy before. If it worked for you before, then hopefully run through the same therapy and with a bit of luck it'll sort itself out.

      Robbie

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I suffered from Bruxism pretty bad as I would wake myself up at night because it sounded like I was chewing on a rock...

      My cure believe it or not was Bowen Therapy!

      I played football on a Saturday and I would get a massage before hand to help relax and get rid of built up stress, my therapist had noticed that my hips were out of line as well as my jaw as somehow the counter act with each other, she did Bowen Therapy on me, realigned my hips, legs,back and jaw.. later on she notified me that people who grind their teeth suffer from this, so every Saturday she would check to see if my hips and jaw were aligned and I never grinded my teeth ever since!

      Footy season had finished, I had moved back home and 2 months later without Bowen Therapy, stress had rebuilt and what do you know I started to grind my teeth again... I recommend Bowen Therapy A LOT!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Bruxism is ignored by most of people. The fact is that they don't even understand that they are having this problem.