Bumping and grinding in the night..... of teeth that is!

So you enjoy a good night-time grind....or so it seems according to your dentist! So what is night-time grinding? Grinding (or bruxism), is a parafunctional activity - or an unintended action of our oral muscles for a purpose that the body was not designed for (like chewing, speaking etc). 

Huh. So why do we grind at night time?

The answer that comes to most peoples minds is stress - and yes this is one factor. Given how hectic our lives are becoming, stress certainly has a part to play. But that's not the only story. Diet and nutritional deficiency has been implicated. Research has also found that a number of forms of sleep disordered breathing, ranging from snoring through to sleep apnoea, have all be found to contribute to grinding and bruxism. In very simple terms, if the brain perceives it isn't getting enough oxygen at night, it's under stress, leading to grinding. 

If left unchecked, damage to both teeth, joints and (in the case of sleep apnoea) even your health may all follow in the future. So given all this happens without you knowing about it (and without you having control over it) what can you do? 

Establishing a cause for the grinding is perhaps the most important step. Where sleep breathing is a concern, a sleep study may be required. Then management can begin. 

A simple solution for the stressful grinder is an occlusal splint - a small protective device worn at night. For those with diagnosed snoring or sleep apnoea, a different night-time appliance can be worn, with an open-airway component built-in. This should all be discussed with your friendly Northbridge Dentists team :)