We’ve all experienced the unpleasant sensation that goes along with biting our tongues, but the positive (if there is a positive to something so painful) is that we can usually identify how we did it. However, there are some people who experience the annoying aftermath of tongue biting and have no idea how it even happened. Usually this occurs when someone bites their tongue in their sleep. But how and why does this happen? My St. Joseph dental office has some answers.
There are several potential reasons you bite your tongue in your sleep. Some common causes can include:
However, if nighttime tongue biting is chronic, there are three typical conditions that usually point to a more serious concern.
While seizures can generally occur at any time, there are instances when there are no daytime signs at all and symptoms are experienced during sleep alone. These are referred to as nocturnal seizures. Like any other seizure, nocturnal seizures cause individuals’ muscles to tighten and they experience erratic, uncontrollable movements, including tongue biting. Medication can help control seizures and limit tongue biting.
More common in children, rhythmic movement disorder causes sudden jerks and other sharp movements during sleep. Usually the head and neck are affected and can cause someone to bite their tongue. Kids normally grow out of the disorder, but medication may be appropriate.
Bruxism, more commonly referred to as teeth grinding, is characterized by the continual grating of the top teeth against the bottom or consistent clenching of the jaw muscles. While this can happen while someone is awake, it’s commonly experienced subconsciously during sleep. The act of grinding your teeth can cause chronic tongue biting as well as additional dental concerns such as chipping or breaking of teeth. Usually, your dentist in St. Joseph will make a night guard to protect your teeth, and your tongue, from the effects of bruxism.
Have you been experiencing unexplained tongue trauma? Call my dental office in St. Joseph to schedule an appointment. If signs point to teeth grinding, we’ll work with you to determine the treatment that’s appropriate for you. If something else is suspected, we’ll recommend that you speak with your physician.
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