“Listen Doctor! I think I would know if I was grinding my teeth at night!”
Many dentists experience this. The dentist tells the patient that they are showing signs of teeth grinding or jaw clenching at night, only to be met with disbelief from the patient.
What To Look For
Patients believe they would KNOW if they were grinding or clenching at night. However, this can happen even when you’re not conscious. It’s an act we perform while sleeping and it’s important to understand that we grind in short intense bursts (not all night long).
You might be wondering “how do I know if I’m grinding my teeth at night”?
5 Signs You May Be Grinding Your Teeth at Night
1.) You wake up with a sore jaw.
If you wake up only to find that your mouth hurts, you may very well be grinding or clenching your teeth at night (particularly, if your teeth ache and your jaw hurts). Both clenching and grinding can cause not only dental damage to your teeth, but irritation to the muscles in your head and neck. There are a variety of factors that can be inducing this bruxing action.
Stress is always high on the list and the effects are something you should take very seriously.
People across the globe are learning everyday just how serious it can be when they finally wear their teeth down and/or crack them. Cosmetic restorations are very expensive.
A full mouth restoration can cost between $30,000-$60,000.
Think about it. You have 32 teeth (well, give or take a few). A root canal for 1 tooth (which is often a must-have if you crack your tooth) can cost anywhere from $1000-$2500.
You can protect your pearly whites by wearing a simple, thin clear guard. Night Guards will also alleviate some or all of that jaw pain/muscle irritation and headaches.
2.) Your back teeth are flat OR they look like they have little “pot holes” on them
It’s hard for us to really see changes in our own dental anatomy. It would be helpful to have a “before” and “after” picture of our teeth to see exactly what kind of damage we’re doing. Oh, to be able to time travel backwards!
This is why you need to be aware of your teeth. Pay attention to any changes in your dental anatomy. Enamel is tough. It takes a lot of clenching and grinding over a long period of time to damage it.
Because of this drawn out period of wearing down, we often don’t even notice. So look in the mirror and check out your teeth surfaces. Do you have shorter looking front teeth than you remember? Fracture lines? A dentist will be able to see these little lines in the teeth.
You may also notice that your back teeth are flat or have little pits on them (as seen in the reference picture). Look carefully at your molars. Do you see anything that resembles a “pot hole”? This is a good indication you are grinding.
3.) You have chipped teeth that fit together like a jig-saw puzzle
As mentioned above, tooth enamel is incredibly tough. It’s the hardest substance in the human body – even harder than our bones. It can stand a lot of pressure, but teeth grinders can also be so tough on their teeth they wear the enamel out.
Research has proven that while we sleep, we can grind or clench down on our teeth with up to 10 times the force we use during the day to do things like chewing our food or gum. So as you can imagine, if you’re cracking teeth, you’re really doing some intense grinding/clenching while you’re snoozing.
If you think you have cracked a tooth, it’s important to seek treatment quickly. Unfortunately, if you’re already to that stage, you will need some endodontic treatment along with cosmetic restoration. You will also need a night guard to protect against any future damage.
4.) You chew on things during the day (i.e.: pencils, gum, etc.)
First thing, stop chewing gum. Stop chewing pencils for that matter! Easier said than done, I know, but gum is really bad for teeth grinders – even ADA-approved gum.
The constant chewing is reinforcing the habit. If you’re actively and voluntarily chewing on things during the day, you’re even more likely to continue that motion into the night. So what’s happening? You’re chewing on things during the day and as a result “toughening” your jaw muscles to where they become very strong and tight. This can encourage your jaw muscles to want to go through that grinding motion because it’s used to it.
Ease your jaw muscles during the day, relax, stop chewing gum, and the urge to grind your teeth may lessen.
5.) Your dentist has told you so.
“I don’t grind my teeth!”
It always amazes me how many people swear that they’re not grinding their teeth at night. I ask them “How do you know? You’re asleep!” The list of reasons range from “my jaw doesn’t hurt in the morning” to “my husband/wife would hear me” to “I make myself sleep with my mouth open”.
One man recently told me that he takes medications that dry his mouth out and as a result, he sleeps with his mouth open so he knows for a fact that he is NOT grinding or clenching his teeth.
Truth is, guys, you don’t know. You can’t possibly know. But a dentist knows. So, if a dentist says that you grind your teeth, please believe them. They can see things you can’t.
Also, here’s something you should know. Bruxing (teeth grinding) is not an action that occurs all night long. Typically, it happens in these short, intense bursts. So you may not be grinding/clenching your teeth 80-90% of the time, but if you’re doing it 10% of the time, you’re suffering from Bruxism (and potentially, all the not-so-lovely effects).
Custom Night Guard Made By Taking Your Own Dental Impression
The Good News – There’s Armor for your teeth
You can save hundreds of dollars by ordering your custom sleep guard online. Instead of having to go to a dentist and get a dental impression taken of your teeth, you can simply place an order online and have a dental impression kit sent to your home.
The kit consists of some mixing putty and a plastic tray. It’s very simple. You take your own teeth impression, place it in the pre-paid mailer and send it back to the lab. The lab will construct the same exact custom night guard you would have paid hundreds of dollars for in a dental office, for a fraction of that cost.
“I Might Be Grinding My Teeth At Night. How do I know?”
Here is one test you can try on yourself to see if your front teeth are possibly too short.
Stand in front of a mirror and relax your face and mouth muscles. Open your mouth slightly. Your back teeth should not be touching.
The upper lip must be completely relaxed. Keep your head straight forward. Can you see your teeth?
When a dentist does this exercise on a patient he is looking for 1-2mm of visible front teeth. If he doesn’t see any teeth showing, the teeth may be too short.
We strive to provide the most accurate, up-to-date information about teeth grinding
Bruxism is a subject that has so many variables. Questions like “why am I grinding my teeth”, “how do I make myself stop grinding/clenching my teeth”, “which night guard should I choose?” and many many more are not answerable in a clear cut way. Each person is different, and the truth is, experts are still not sure as to why we’re grinding our teeth and there is no magic pill that can make us stop.
It is our business to provide accurate information to you, the reader, so that you can make informed decisions about your battle with Bruxism. As more information becomes available we will continue to keep you updated. We hope you have found this article useful and interesting! As always, please feel free to leave feedback.
Thank you for taking time to read!