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3150 North Elm Street, Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408

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May 29th, 2019

Unclench your jaw – truths about grinding your teeth

Tooth grinding, also referred to as bruxism, is a condition where one grinds or clenches their teeth excessively. While clenching or grinding your teeth on occasion is normal, excessive grinding typically occurs during sleep when it is difficult for people to know whether or not they are doing it. 

Notable signs and symptoms of bruxism include:

• Jaw, neck or face soreness.
• Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely.
• Grinding noises coming from the mouth which may be loud enough that your partner can hear.
• Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose.
• Worn tooth enamel.
• Increased tooth pain or sensitivity.
• Sleep disruption.
• Pain that feels like an ear ache.
• Dull headache starting in the temples.
• Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek.

Doctors don’t completely understand what causes bruxism, but it may be due to a combination of physical, psychological, and genetic factors. Tooth grinding can be triggered by stress, medical conditions, or missing or crooked teeth. While a trip to your dentist can confirm tooth grinding, here are a few strategies to help you stop grinding.

Wear a night guard - your dentist can custom fit you for a night guard which is worn while you sleep. A guard is an appliance that fits over your top teeth and is made from acrylic. Though it will not stop you from grinding, it protects your teeth so that the top teeth and bottom teeth are not grinding on one another. 

Relax - since anxiety and stress is a significant force behind grinding, try to unwind and relieve stress before bedtime. Try working out after work to alleviate stress or take a warm bath before bedtime. Warm water can help relax your jaw muscles before you fall asleep.

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine - grinding may get worse after drinking alcohol or caffeine in the evening. So skip the afternoon coffee and enjoy a better night’s rest. 

Don’t Chew Anything Besides Food - Crunching on ice or gnawing on pens or pencils can enable your jaw muscles to get used to clenching, and this makes you more likely to grind your teeth at night 

Severe grinding can lead to loose or broken teeth and can wear the teeth down so much that crowns, implants, root canals, bridges, or dentures may be needed. If you believe, you are experiencing bruxism, speak to your dentist or doctor so that they can also look for signs such as changes in your tooth shape as well as jaw tenderness.

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Greensboro, NC 27408
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