Daytime and Nighttime Bruxism: Differences, Causes, and Treatments

Bruxism is the technical term for “teeth grinding.” This habit can lead to damage to the surfaces of a person’s teeth or even to their bite when it continues for a lengthy duration. There are also two different types of bruxism that should prompt a visit to the orthodontist in Melboure, FL: Daytime bruxism and nighttime bruxism. The good news is, treatment for the habit tends to be simple and inexpensive. This is especially true if the problem is found early. Here’s what you need to know about daytime and nighttime bruxism.

Differences Between Daytime & Nighttime Bruxism

The main difference between daytime (diurnal) bruxism and nighttime (nocturnal) bruxism is pretty obvious. Daytime teeth grinding happens when a person is awake, and nighttime teeth grinding happens when the person is asleep. One interesting thing to note is there is not much overlap between the two groups. If a person grinds their teeth in their sleep, they are not likely to grind their teeth when they’re awake — and vice versa.

Studies published by the National Institutes of Health found approximately 10 percent of adults are diurnal teeth grinders, while about 5 percent of people grind their teeth at night. If this habit is allowed to continue for a prolonged period of time, it can pose significant risks to your teeth, as it grinds the enamel off of them. Long-term issues related to daytime and nighttime bruxism can include:

  • Destruction of enamel
  • Painful, sensitive teeth
  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Broken or cracked teeth

Causes of Bruxism

Stress is a major factor in developing the habit of teeth clenching. There is a lot of research which supports the fact that people in high-stress professions are more likely to clench or grind their teeth. An interesting study from Brazil in 2008 found 50 percent of police officers had diurnal bruxism — despite the fact that only 10 percent of the regular population develops this habit! Another study from 2011 found nearly 60 percent of IT professionals grind their teeth. If you’re in a high-stress profession, you are more likely to develop this habit.

As for nocturnal bruxism, the verdict on a main culprit is still in question. Stress is partly a factor. Recent studies from the American Academy of Oral Medicine found there is a lot of brainwave activity and elevated heart rate just before an incident of nighttime grinding begins. This suggests a link to a stress response from the central nervous system. Nocturnal bruxism has also been linked to the following risk factors:

  • Heavy daytime caffeine use
  • Smoking
  • Sleep apnea
  • Heavy snoring
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Certain antidepressant medications

Bruxism Treatments from an Orthodontist in Melbourne

Daytime bruxism is usually easier to treat than nighttime bruxism, because you are awake and aware of the problem. Awareness is half the battle! Your orthodontist in Melbourne, FL can help you with behavioral suggestions to help minimize your daytime teeth clenching. Visual cues around your home or workplace can remind you to stop clenching or grinding your teeth.

Nighttime bruxism treatment will likely involve fitting you with a custom mouthguard that protects the teeth and jaws while you sleep. Night mouth guards tend to be a little bulky, so they are not as effective in treating daytime clenching (they don’t allow clear speech).

Fortunately, we also have the option to fit you with a crystal-clear, invisible mouth guard that is effective for daytime use. If you’ve heard of Invisalign or invisible braces in Melbourne, daytime mouth guards are very similar in concept to those. They fit perfectly over your teeth. They protect the enamel if you should forget and start grinding your teeth during a stressful day at work. No one will even know you’re wearing the mouth guard unless you tell them.

If bruxism has damaged your teeth substantially, then the orthodontic treatment becomes more complex and lengthier. A series of crowns may need to be installed to preserve and restore your teeth, for example. The first part of the battle, however, is diagnosing the habit and taking immediate steps to prevent the behavior.

Contact Our Orthodontists in Melbourne, FL for Bruxism Treatment

Whether you are dealing with diurnal or nocturnal bruxism, your friendly expert at Melbourne Orthodontics in Melbourne can help restore and preserve your smile! Contact our office at (321) 254-5232 to schedule an appointment.