Are You Grinding Your Teeth?

Woman Grinding Her TeethWhat is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the clenching or grinding of teeth. It’s a fairly common habit with about 1 in 3 exhibiting the behavior, yet most don’t even realize they’re affected. That’s partly because bruxism can occur while sleeping at night, but also because the habit develops subconsciously, usually due to stress or anxiety.

Recognizing the problem is the first step, and many patients can make great improvement by simply learning to position teeth, tongue and lips properly. Some people mistakenly believe that teeth must touch all the time. Instead, teeth should rest a little apart, with the tongue slightly upward and lips shut.

Part of every checkup involves looking for physical signs of wear caused by clenching or grinding, and we may observe your condition over several visits to monitor the severity. If left unchecked, bruxism can wear down enamel and make the tips of teeth look flat. Eventually teeth can become more sensitive as the dentin (interior tooth structure) is exposed, and teeth may also be more prone to chips, cracks and decay.

How to Treat Clenching and Grinding

  • Learn to position teeth, tongue and lips properly. Teeth should rest apart, with the tongue slightly upward and lips shut.
  • Reduce the stress. You might not be able to do anything about having a stressful job, but try to find outlets for relief such as exercise, meditation, yoga, fishing or any hobby you enjoy!
  • Get enough sleep. A big part of stress is related to sleep—either by not getting enough of it, or by having an irregular sleep schedule. You can’t make up for a lack of sleep by “sleeping in” on a later date, so get to bed on time, you’ll thank yourself in the morning!
  • For bruxism during the day, learn to recognize when it’s happening and chew something else! Sugar-free gum or a healthy snack such as an apple can be a good way to relive some “mouth-stress.”
  • For bruxism at night, we can create a custom-fitted acrylic night guard that prevents any further damage. We take an impression so the fit of the mouth guard is very precise, and the material is very thin and comfortable to wear at night. Contact us today for a consultation!

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