Many people grind their teeth occasionally. When teeth grinding, which is medically called bruxism, only occurs occasionally, it usually does not harm the teeth. However, regular bruxism can damage the teeth and cause other oral health problems. Teeth grinding and clenching often occurs during sleep and can be caused by a misaligned bite, crooked or missing teeth, or a sleep disorder. Bruxism can also be caused by stress. Chronic teeth grinding can cause broken, loosened, or lost teeth. Bruxism can also cause excessive wear on the teeth.
Most people do not know that they grind their teeth, as this often occurs during sleep. You may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night if you wake with a dull headache or a sore jaw.
Follow these tips to help prevent teeth grinding:
- Avoid or reduce intake of 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.
If you think that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth, talk to our dentist. Your teeth and 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. Contact our office today to learn more and to schedule a visit!