Grinding teeth: Is it normal?

So many people ask me how come we grind our teeth when we sleep.  Most of the time we don’t even know about it until someone else (like a dentist) tells us about it.  Often people assume that the person sleeping next to them would hear the grinding sound, but often it isn’t the case.

Why do people grind their teeth?  Simply put, the way the jaw closes is not in the same position as way the teeth occlude.  Hence, when the jaw is trying to “relax”- getting to its most comfortable position, the teeth are in the way.  So, the jaw is trying to move around to get “comfortable”, hence the grinding occurs.

In many incidences, after a night of grinding, the muscles of the jaw would feel “tight” and the teeth become more sensitive to cold or have trouble in biting down on the hard food.  We recommend a mouth guard for those “frequent” grinders to reduce trauma to their teeth and jaw muscles.

People usually put on this mouth guard at night before they sleep. Therefore, we called it “night guard”.  In dental field, we called it “occlusal splint”.  Usually, it is made of a thermal sensitive material, which softens in the temperature above 40 degrees Celsius and would become hard when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. Often it is placed on the upper teeth.  We will introduce different types of occlusal splint in our next blog.

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