It is unclear how many people clench, grind, and gnash their teeth while they sleep, but it seems to be a fairly common problem. Unconsciously gritting your teeth is called Bruxism, or sleep Bruxism, if you do it while asleep. It is more difficult to diagnose and control while asleep because you might not even be aware it is happening. There are different reasons it can occur but many people grind their teeth because of stress, sleeping disorders, crooked teeth, or a misaligned bite.
Symptoms that can tell you if you may be clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep include a tight or sore jaw, headaches, wear or damaged teeth, and a clicking or popping noise in your jaw. If someone notices a grinding noise while you are asleep that also a pretty sure sign.
Bruxism can be harmful because it can very serious effects on your teeth. Some people grind their teeth down to nubs and need to have extensive work to correct or replace their teeth. It can also affect your jaw and even affect your hearing.
Though there is no cure for Bruxism there are a lot of things you can do to treat the problem. There are some basic changes in everyday habits that can help. You can reduce stress, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, exercise and get an adequate amount of sleep. These common health tips are a good start to eliminating the grinding at night. Avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine, and avoiding chewing on nonfood items, like gum or a pen can also help. Being conscious of clenching and grinding during the day and even stretching the jaw muscles can help with the tightness and result in less clenching while you sleep.
If the grinding continues to be a problem, you can get a night guard to wear at night. Your dentist can have one custom fit for you, or you can get a standard size one at a drugstore. The big difference between these options is comfort because a custom fit guard will certainly have more natural feel. You can also massage the muscle and press a warm cloth on it to relax the muscle. Another option for symptom relief is a muscle relaxer. Talk to your doctor if you feel the level of discomfort requires a muscle relaxer. Bruxism can be a temporary symptom of other problems like stress and anxiety, so talk to your doctor and dentist and have them help you decide on possible treatments.