What Does It Mean When You Grind Your Teeth?

TeethEver wonder why you grind your teeth? You are not alone. Most people actually clench and grind their teeth a bit. The medical term for it is bruxism, and it is pretty much harmless. However, if you grind your teeth regularly, they can sustain damage and eventually develop more serious oral health issues.

Why people grind their teeth

Excessive grinding of your teeth is more likely to occur when you are asleep. It can be a result of negative emotions like stress, anxiety, anger, and aggression. It can also be the result of health issues like sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, crooked/missing teeth, or an abnormal bite.

Figuring out if you grind your teeth

People typically grind their teeth while asleep. Due to that, it is harder to detect since people are not doing it consciously. Many people who grind their teeth do not do it while they are awake. If you do not share a room with someone, it can take years for you to realize you grind your teeth.

The most common symptoms of teeth grinding are sore jaw muscles and headaches when you wake up in the morning. If you think you grind your teeth while sleeping, contact your dentist so that he/she can conduct an examination looking for signs of teeth grinding like excessive wear and a tender jaw.

What makes grinding your teeth so harmful?

Chronic bruxism can lead to serious oral health problems like loose and fractured teeth. It could even lead to the total loss of some of your teeth. If left unchecked, you will eventually grind your teeth down to stumps that can no longer perform the task of grinding down food. It can also change your facial structure and cause TMJ disorder.

Fortunately, we can restore your bite with the use of crowns, bridges, implants, root canals and dentures.

How do I stop grinding my teeth?

The first thing you want to do is find a way to protect your teeth while figuring out the solution to your bruxism. You can get a cheap mouth guard from the grocery store while you wait for a customized one from your dentist. With the rubber mouth guard in place, your teeth will no longer grind each other down while you sleep.

Your dentist will give you advice on ways to reduce stress if that is the root cause of your bruxism. Start an exercise program, attend a stress management session, or obtain a prescription for muscle relaxers.

If you grind your teeth because of a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, addressing your insomnia will eliminate or, at the very least, reduce your grinding.

Other things you can do to kick your bruxism include:

  • Reduce your consumption of caffeinated products like colas, coffee, and chocolate.

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages. It tends to intensify your grinding.

  • Avoid chewing on things that aren't meant to be chewed like pens or pencils.

  • Stay away from chewing gums. The workout it gives your jaw intensifies your grinding.

  • Place the tip of your tongue between your teeth if you find yourself grinding your teeth during the day.

Tired of grinding your teeth down? Contact a dentist to explore your options.

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