Good sleep is something you don’t miss until it’s gone. There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning not feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the upcoming day, and even worse, not being sure what exactly could be causing it.
With everything from caffeine consumption to too much screen time being linked to sleeping problems, where do you even begin to find out what’s causing it – especially when it isn’t causing outright insomnia? If it’s being accompanied by lingering headaches and pain radiating from the jaw, it could be your teeth grinding to blame.
Teeth grinding (or bruxism) is estimated to afflict one in ten Australians. Sleep-specific bruxism involves a person repetitively and unconsciously moving their jaw muscles, biting and clenching. It only usually occurs for a few hours every night, but that is enough to cause a major disturbance to one’s quality of rest. There is no known cause for bruxism, although you might be genetically predisposed to developing it if a close family member also has it. It occurs equally in both men and women and can occur as often in children and teens as it does in adults.
Many people find that they experience migraines and cluster headaches due to poor sleep. While they might not be aware while it’s occurring, the following morning can leave lingering traces of nausea, pain and sensitivity to light. If left untreated you could end up damaging your teeth, leading to tooth loss and gum disease as a worst case scenario.
You cannot self-diagnose bruxism – only a monitored sleep study or examination by a dental professional can do this. The good news is that once you have been diagnosed, you’re likely to be offered a very simple and affordable treatment option in the form of a mouth guard to be worn while sleeping. For most people this is enough to kerb their teeth grinding at night, giving you back the good night’s sleep that you truly deserve.