Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Most people grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called “bruxism,” does not normally cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis, teeth can become damaged and other oral health complications can arise.
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or by missing or crooked teeth.
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw in the morning is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times, people learn that they grind their teeth from their loved ones who hear the grinding at night.
If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, give us a call. We can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism.
Problems Can Result
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or even the loss of teeth. The chronic grinding can wear teeth down to stumps. When this happens, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.
Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaw, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen T.M.J., and even change the appearance of your face.
We can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.
If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask us about ways to reduce stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription muscle relaxants are some possibilities.
Other Tips to Help Reduce Teeth Grinding
1. Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
2. Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
3. Don’t chew on pencils, pens or anything that is not food.
4. Avoid chewing gum. It allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching, and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
5. Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
6. You can help relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheeks in front of your earlobes.