• Teeth Grinding: Signs, Effects, & Prevention

    Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a condition that usually happens during sleep. Often, you won’t know you’re doing it unless a partner hears it and notifies you. It’s not harmful if you do it only occasionally, but if left untreated, you can experience damage to your teeth and other complications.

    The Symptoms of Teeth Grinding

    Bruxism-Case-1If you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep, you will develop symptoms that affect your whole body as well as your mouth. Some are permanent, such as tooth loss. Others, like facial pain, will end when you stop grinding your teeth.

    Symptoms that may manifest in your mouth include loose or sensitive teeth, inflamed or receding gums, and difficulty opening your mouth. If your grinding has been going on for a long time, or is very severe, your teeth may become worn as well.

    Other symptoms include dull or constant headaches, facial myalgia (facial muscle pain), earaches, stiffness in the shoulders, pain or stiffness in the jaw, and sleep disruption.

    The Effects of Teeth Grinding

    Teeth grinding may cause fracturing and loosening of teeth. It can also wear teeth down. If a tooth is lost through teeth grinding, you may have to consider dental procedures such as bridges, crowns, implants, dentures, or root canals.

    Beyond this, teeth grinding can result in hearing loss, change the appearance of your face, or cause temporomandibular conditions such as pain and dysfunction in the jaw.

    If you experience severe symptoms, you should go to your dentist to seek a remedy, such as a mouth guard, before you experience infection and the resultant pain.

    Preventing Teeth Grinding

    Teeth grinding can sometimes be caused by stress or anxiety, so exercise, counseling, or getting a prescription for muscle relaxants are possible remedies. Cut back on caffeine and avoid alcohol; both of these substances intensify teeth grinding.

    Don’t chew on items that aren’t food, including gum. Gum allows your jaw muscle to become accustomed to a chewing, clenching motion, and makes it more likely that you will grind your teeth. Loosen your jaw with a warm washcloth against your cheek at night, or place the tip of your tongue between your teeth.

    Note, though, that the main reasons for teeth grinding are missing or crooked teeth, or an abnormal bite; you will need to be proactive about fixing any such problems in your mouth.

    Maintaining your oral health is extremely important in avoiding teeth grinding. Visit your dentist regularly, and don’t ignore the issue if you think you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep. It can be detrimental to your oral and holistic health, and you should have the problem addressed as soon as possible.

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