If teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism, only occurs occasionally, it usually does not cause damage to the teeth. However, regular bruxism can damage the teeth and cause other oral health issues. Teeth grinding and clenching often occurs during sleep and can be caused by a misaligned bite, crooked or missing teeth, or a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Bruxism can also be caused by stress and anxiety. Chronic teeth grinding can cause fractured, loosened, or lost teeth. Bruxism can also cause excessive wear on the teeth.
As teeth grinding often occurs when the individual is asleep, most people do not know that they have a problem. If you wake with a dull headache or a sore jaw, you may be grinding your teeth during sleep.
Follow these tips to help prevent teeth grinding:
• Avoid or reduce ingesting foods and drinks that contain caffeine, like coffee, chocolate, and soda.
• Avoid alcohol ingestion.
• Do not chew on pencils, pens, and other non-food objects. Avoid gum as well, as it trains you to clench your teeth.
• If you notice yourself grinding or clenching your teeth during the day, place the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This trains your jaw muscles to relax.
• Hold a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of the earlobe to relax your jaw muscles at night.
Talk to our dentist if you think that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth. Your jaw can be examined for signs of bruxism, like wear on the teeth and jaw tenderness. If needed, our dentist can provide a custom-made night guard, a covering worn over the teeth to protect them from injury from teeth grinding. We encourage you to contact our office today to schedule a visit with our dentist and to learn more about teeth grinding and ways to combat it.