Grinding Your Teeth: Bruxism
Bruxism is the clenching or grinding of the teeth, which occurs primarily while you are sleeping. The symptoms of Bruxism are:
- a sore, tired jaw
- difficulty opening and closing your mouth
- sensitive teeth
- earaches or pain in your jaw joint
The pressure on your teeth is many times greater during Bruxism than during normal chewing. If left untreated you may experience:
- flattened or worn-down teeth
- teeth chipped at the gum line
- loose teeth
- damage to the bone around your teeth
- damage to your jaw joint, the TMJ
Though all the causes of grinding are not known, stress is often a factor. There are a variety of stress-reduction techniques that may be helpful, or medication might be recommended to temporarily reduce stress or to reduce pain and soreness.
Spaces, worn teeth, or teeth that are out of alignment may cause grinding and clenching. Crowns, bridges, or other dental restorations can restore your bite and eliminate the pattern of grinding and clenching.
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth
One of the most common and effective ways to stop the damage caused by grinding and clenching is the use of a nightguard. A nightguard is a plastic device that fits over your teeth and is worn at night to protect them from the damage caused by grinding. There are many types and styles of nightguards. Some are hard and some are soft; they may be worn on the top or the bottom teeth.
To make a nightguard, on the first appointment your dentist takes impressions. From these impressions, models are made of your teeth. It’s on these models that the custom nightguard is made. On your second appointment you will try on the nightguard, and your dentist will carefully adjust its fit.
Without treatment, the constant clenching and grinding of your teeth can cause widespread damage in your mouth. Dealing with the problem early on can restore harmony and prevent many future problems.
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