Waking up with a pain in your teeth and jaw can be quite alarming, but it happens to many people. Just because you're experiencing this pain doesn't necessarily mean that you're developing a cavity or another problem. Here's what you need to know about the pain you're experiencing and its most likely cause.
How to Tell the Difference
To be fair, only a dentist can tell you exactly what is causing your discomfort. However, there are a few signs you can look at to determine if it's likely to be a cavity-induced pain or not.
For example, if you did have a cavity or nerve problem in your tooth, chances are it would act up over the course of the day. For example, eating something cold or hot might cause pain, or chewing might make it worse. However, if your teeth and jaw just seem to ache mostly in the morning, chances are it's due to something you're doing while you're asleep.
One of the most common causes of tooth and jaw pain for adults is tooth grinding. This is a habit that people engage in, sometimes through the day, but especially at night while they're asleep.
Tooth grinding can be a significant problem. It can trigger headaches in some people and can obviously induce pain in the teeth themselves and the jaw bone supporting them. If you have temporomandibular joint problems, like TMJ disorder, you may also have your joints get triggered by this problem.
Tooth grinding is sometimes due to stress that manifests while you're asleep, while in other cases you might simply clamp your jaw tightly shut while you're sleeping. It's a common problem, but unfortunately, years of repeated tooth grinding can eventually start to damage your teeth to the point where cavities become more likely, as the enamel gets damaged. So while you might not have a cavity to blame for your pain right now, you could end up with one or more someday without help.
What to Do
Taking care of tooth grinding is a fairly easy process. You can, of course, incorporate jaw massage and relaxation techniques before bed in an effort to ward off the problem, but that may not be the full solution you're looking for.
Getting tooth grinding protection from your dentist is the best bet here. Your dentist can make a custom-fitted mouthguard for you that will shield your teeth from rubbing against each other in your sleep. This will help you to rest more readily, and even if you are biting down while you're asleep, you won't be hurting your teeth in the process. You're also far less likely to experience the same level of discomfort the next day.
In addition, your dental visit will include a full exam that will ensure that your teeth are in good shape. If damage from the grinding is found, catching it early-on will help your dentist to reduce your discomfort and provide your teeth with protection so that they don't develop cavities.
Tooth grinding is a big problem, even if it starts out as minor discomfort. If you suspect that you're grinding your teeth, contact your dental clinic for help before it becomes a major problem.