How to Prevent Teeth Grinding

Are you grinding your teeth at night? The condition, called bruxism, can be a painful problem if it goes untreated.

You may not even know you’re doing it. But if you wake in the morning with jaw pain, headaches, or chipped enamel on your teeth, you might be grinding your teeth in your sleep, a condition called bruxism.

Understanding Bruxism

In most instances, teeth grinding is a nighttime problem – if you have bruxism, you’re likely doing it while you’re asleep and might not realize it. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.

If you suspect you may have a problem with teeth grinding, talk to your dentist. He or she can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and excessive wear on your teeth.

Both men and women can be affected by teeth grinding, although the problem is less common as you age. The highest demographic of those who suffer from bruxism is in patients 11 years and younger.

Know the Signs of Teeth Grinding

 The most common symptom, of course, is the grinding itself, but this leads to a number of secondary concerns. “The signs and symptoms of bruxism are teeth wearing, jaw muscle tenderness, head muscle tenderness around the temple area, jaw muscle swelling, morning headaches, tongue indentation, and pain or tenderness during muscle movement.

Over time, the short-term effects of grinding your teeth can lead to greater complications if the bruxism isn’t addressed. Long term effects can include chronic jaw/muscle pain, headaches, earaches, and even fracturing or losing teeth.

Treating Bruxism

Talk to your dentist about nighttime teeth grinding to limit complications. Though bruxism can’t be cured, it can be treated to minimize the impact on your teeth, jaw, and surrounding muscles.

Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from excess wear and teeth grinding at night.

Other tips for teeth grinding include:

  • Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine; such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.

  • Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.

  • Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
  • Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.

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