Bruxism: Teeth-Grinding While You Sleep
People’s teeth tell what happens when they sleep. Dentists know if they grind their teeth while sleeping - scientifically known as bruxism - by looking for "abfractions" in the teeth. Abfractions are wear patterns in the teeth near the gumline. These are caused by clenching, gnashing and grinding the teeth during sleep.
The hard outer protective layer of the teeth is called enamel. The enamel is thinnest in the "neck" portion of the tooth where the crown meets the root. In sleep bruxism, the tooth becomes flexed and the hard enamel is sloughed off. With time, it creates a wedge shaped into the tooth. This makes the tooth more sensitive to pain and vulnerable to decay.
Sleep bruxism is not a disease but a sleep disorder, the third-most common behind snooring and sleep talking. The underlying causes are unknown, but physical and psychological causes could range from anxiety, stress, malocclusion and growth and development of kids’ jaws and teeth. Bruxism can cause damage to the teeth and surrounding tissue, and bruxers may wake up with headache and jaw pain.
To prevent further tooth damage, mouth guards can be made by dentists to fit in the mouth.