Shifting, Grinding, Clenching: What Our Teeth Do While We Sleep

June 27, 2023

We may think of sleeping as a restful period, but our bodies are actually hard at work during the overnight hours. The body repairs and restores itself, and the brain receives new information, among other processes. And as our orthodontist at Ortho Inc. can attest, things are happening with our teeth while we’re asleep, too.

As our bodies relax and the muscles of our jaws and mouth go into sleep mode, our teeth are subtly shifting into new positions. Sometimes it can be because we have wisdom teeth that are exerting pressure as they try to come in. People who wear continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks for sleep apnea can experience tooth movement, according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine. CPAP wearers should be aware of possible changes in their bite and alert our orthodontist, who can make an assessment and recommend whether corrective action is appropriate.

It’s common that the tension we experience during our waking hours can affect the content of our dreams, and that is also the case with our teeth. When that stress leads to clenching your jaw and/or grinding your teeth overnight, that leads to a harmful condition known as bruxism, which can also be caused by a sleep disorder like apnea, depression, smoking, or heavy consumption of alcohol or caffeine. Waking up in the morning with an aching jaw and sore teeth are common signs of bruxism, as are headaches and chipped teeth.

Our orthodontist performs a thorough examination to determine whether a bruxism diagnosis is warranted and recommend treatment. Sometimes a mouth guard or night guard worn while sleeping can bring relief. Stress-reducing techniques and alterations to one’s diet and medication can be useful. 

If you’re experiencing symptoms of bruxism or noticeable shifting of your bite, please visit our orthodontist at Ortho Inc., who offers a level of experience and personal care that are unsurpassed. Contact us today for an appointment!