Bruxism: Teeth Grinding and Jaw Clenching

Many people clench or grind their teeth, but often don’t even realize they are doing it. That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms of these behaviors, as well as maintain regular visits to the dentist because the signs will be noticeable to a dental professional.

Here are some things to watch for and suggestions on how to deal with bruxism.

Bruxism is when you hold your top and bottom teeth tightly together or slide your teeth back and forth against each other. Dentists say that there are a variety of causes for bruxism, such as smoking, sleep disorders, depression, caffeine, medications, anxiety, and drug use. The overall common link to these behaviors though is reported to be stress.

It’s important to know what effects to look for that might indicate you are grinding or clenching your teeth. Common signs include:

  • Aching facial muscles and jaw
  • Headache
  • Ear ache
  • Inability to open your mouth as wide as usual
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Disrupting others when sleeping due to noise caused by grinding
  • Irritated or receding gums
  • Tight or stiff shoulders
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Uneven or excessive tooth wear or breakage

If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your dentist for a checkup. Bruxism patients may be fitted with a night guard, an appliance worn while sleeping to protect your teeth and help relieve your symptoms. Your dentist will also help you identify the cause of your bruxism, likely stress. In addition to determining the source of your stress and trying to reduce it, there are some techniques to relieve stress and reduce your bruxism symptoms that may be helpful. These include practicing yoga, eating anti-inflammatory foods, performing deep breathing exercises, journaling to release distracting or nagging thoughts, and exercising to release tension.

Targeting the root cause of your bruxism is a good way to get control of the problem, and seeing your dentist for ways to protect your teeth and gums will help save you from suffering the effects of bruxism.

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