Do you wake up some mornings to find that you have chewed or bitten your cheeks in your sleep? Not only can nightly cheek biting leave you with painful ulcers, but it can also leave you stressed and worn out.
Fortunately, with a little dental detective work you can find the cause of your cheek biting and take the appropriate action to remedy it.
First, you should start with the 'why'.
Your Teeth May Be Misaligned
Teeth can become misaligned for a number of reasons. In younger people, this misalignment could be the result of the jaw being too small to accommodate their incoming adult teeth. As a result, those new teeth are forced to squeeze into a cramped jaw, often coming out at odd angles.
In older people, tooth misalignment is common. This is because your teeth move forward from the back of your mouth to the front of your mouth over your lifetime. Though not everyone has misaligned teeth later in life, it is still quite a common phenomenon in older people.
Misaligned teeth can cause cheek biting.
Teeth Misalignment Leads to Bruxism
During sleep, if your teeth are out of alignment, your jaw will attempt to correct this by moving your jaw. This causes your teeth to come together and grind. If you grind your teeth at night, you may also bite your cheeks in the process.
Misaligned Teeth Can Catch Your Cheeks
If a tooth is misaligned, even to a minor extent, it may scrape against your cheek as you sleep, damaging the skin tissue.
This can be made even worse if you have sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to struggle for breath whilst sleeping. As you fight for breath while still asleep, any misaligned teeth may catch your cheek, leaving a wound that will be sore in the morning.
Once you know why you have been chewing your cheeks, you can then take action to stop it.
Braces Can Help
Even if you only have one misaligned tooth, you can still use braces to straighten. Invisalign, for example, is designed for minor cases like the movement of a single tooth. By moving your teeth into a more favourable position in your jaw, you can stop the nocturnal cheek biting and improve your smile.
Mouthguards Will Protect Your Cheeks
You can also opt to wear a mouthguard at night. Wearing one of these will stop you from biting your cheeks at night. Although you can purchase a regular sports mouthguard from a shop, a better option would be to have your dentist make a custom mouthguard for you. That way, you can ensure your mouthguard fits comfortably whilst you sleep at night.
If you keep biting your cheeks at night, you should see your dentist for an oral examination. They can help you to diagnose the problem and recommend a suitable course of action.