The Nightly Grind

Nighttime teeth grinding (or what we like to call it: Bruxism)

Paul the plumber comes into Storyville complaining of a sore jaw in the morning, generalized tooth sensitivity, and daytime headaches. With conversation, we applaud the fact that Paul is a new dad!

Historically, bruxism has been associated with increased daytime stress. While I have found this is certainly true as proven by quite a few stressed-out students and worker bees, what I have found in 19 years of practice is that there is a more direct connection between nighttime grinding and temporary disruptions in our sleep cycle. Sometimes that disruption is a job change; sometimes it’s a move to a new residence sometimes it’s Paul’s beautiful new baby wanting to feed at 3 am.

When Dr. Haydel and I evaluate patients for bruxism, we often discuss life changes and sleep hygiene (see our previous post on the effect of sleep on your health). We also assess muscle soreness, range of motion including maximum opening, and/or location of triggers in the head and neck.

When is a nightguard necessary?

When your grinding habit is affecting your ability to eat or get through the day without anti-inflammatories like Advil or Aleve. Consider an assessment also if your condition is worsening over time. This post contains a helpful introduction to the concept of custom guard use.

Relax with dr. Haydel!

Know that your symptoms are cyclical and require a disruption of the grinding habit. Stop the habit and the symptoms go away. So if you can’t retire and move to a stress-free life in the Carribean, ask us about what direction of care is most appropriate for you! I can tell you for sure, nothing takes away Dr. Haydel’s stress like a small bowl of ice cream!

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