Are Your Teeth Sore When You Wake Up?

Do you regularly wake up and your teeth feel sore? Does your jaw feel tight, or even overworked when you wake up sometimes, especially on days where you are very stressed out?

Chances are you are clenching your teeth when you sleep, possibly grinding them, too. This is called bruxism, and it is a fairly common occurrence. Your teeth get clenched together, typically due to stress, and they don’t get a chance to rest when you sleep.

Your Dentist Can Help With Bruxism

Teeth worn by bruxism

Teeth worn by bruxism

Clenching and grinding your teeth in your sleep is not good. It puts a very large amount of pressure on your teeth for a very extended period of time. This can lead to cracks and fractures of your teeth. Plus, if you are grinding them while you are clenching them, you could wear down the enamel and chewing surfaces of your teeth. This can not only make chewing more difficult, but it can also leave you in pain as the enamel wears down and the dentin is exposed.

Dr. Shapiro believes that bruxism is caused by a number of factors including a bad unbalanced bite, breathing problems during sleep and daily stress. The cure for reducing your stress is on you but for the other two contributing factors your dentist can help

Bad Bites

An unbalanced bite is often the problem when it comes to worn teeth. Your teeth should meet evenly when you close your mouth and needs to be in harmony with your TMJ (tempro-mandibular joint). When you close your mouth your jaw should not hit any single tooth hard and then slide so the rest of your teeth touch. The body is often aware of this disharmony and tries to reduce this premature contact by grinding. Unfortunately this high spot is often not the spot worn down while the rest of your teeth are. To treat this Dr. Shapiro finds all the high spots and balances out the bite. To restore the worn teeth Dr. Shapiro often uses composite bonding material to replace the missing tooth structure. A good example of this is illustrated in the following photos; the first photo is of a 24 year old who had worn down his front teeth. The second photo shows the same teeth two years later. Dr. Shapiro was able to succeed because the patient no longer grinds as his bite is now well balanced.

Worn teeth

A 24 year old with worn teeth


bonded teeth


Breathing Problems During Sleep

Sleep apnea or sleep disordered breathing can be another reason for bruxism. It seems that when there are breathing issues during sleep the body attempts to open the airway by clenching and grinding. This can lead to extreme wear of the teeth, especially the front ones. Your dentist can help by making an oral appliance which repositions the jaw forward during sleep. this open the airway and allows normal breathing. A CPAP is another option for treating sleep apnea though the oral appliance is often better tolerated. The oral appliance has the added benefit of not allowing the teeth to contact which prevents further wear.

Night guards to Prevent Damage

Plastic guards are often used to protect teeth during sleep. Store bought guards, the boil and bite guards, are often not the best option to protect teeth as these can alter the position of your teeth in a negative way. Dentist fabricated guards are effective at protecting your teeth but do not necessarily stop grinding. One specialty type of appliance is the NTI appliance which allows contact of only the front teeth. This stops clenching and muscle spasms and can even lead to a reduction of migraine headaches.

Help is a phone call away

Bruxism or night grinding can do significant damage to your teeth. Worn teeth will lead to a prematurely aging smile, cracked teeth and even root canals and tooth loss. Caught early it can often be easily cured. Find out more by contacting us today!

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