Why is it harmful and what can happen?
Teeth grinding can become a problem if it occurs a lot. Some people grind their teeth then they experience stress. Other people grind their teeth during sleep and may not even realize they’re doing it.
WebMD provides information as to why people grind their teeth and the harm that can result from it. And there are also tips for dealing with it.
What are signs of grinding your teeth?
Regular teeth grinding can cause a dull headache or sore jaw. If you notice either of these symptoms when you wake up in the morning, you may be grinding your teeth during sleep. Also, other family members may say they hear you grinding your teeth at night.
While awake, perhaps you are aware of clenching your teeth or grinding them.
Another way to determine whether you grind your teeth is to have your dentist examine you. Dentists can detect signs of bruxism. They look for excessive wear on the patient’s teeth and tender jaws.
Stress or anxiety can be an underlying cause. However, so can missing teeth, crooked teeth or an abnormal bite. Sleep apnea can also cause people to grind their teeth.
What can happen as a result of teeth grinding?
When chronic, it can fracture teeth, loosen them and even result in tooth loss. It’s possible to wear your teeth down and need crowns, bridges implants, and partial or complete dentures. Grinding can also cause TMD/TMJ. The appearance of your face may change as a result of it.
What treatments can help?
One treatment is having your dentist fit you for a mouth guard to wear at night. If stress is the cause, then an exercise program, muscle relaxants or counseling may be solutions.
A few other measures that can reduce grinding often include:
- Eliminating or reducing use of caffeine (coffee, chocolate or colas).
- Avoiding alcohol consumption, which often intensifies teeth grinding.
- Not chewing on anything that isn’t food—pencils, chewing gum or ice.
- Disciplining yourself to stop clenching or grinding your teeth. If you notice you’re doing it you can put the tip of your tongue between your teeth. That enables jaw muscles to relax.
- Putting a warm washcloth against your cheek near your earlobe. It will help relax your jaw muscles.
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