Bruxism (Teeth Grinding) Q & A

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for tooth grinding, a common habit that can affect people of all ages. While a little grinding typically doesn't bother teeth, when it becomes a longstanding habit, bruxism can cause damage to the tooth surfaces, wearing away enamel and making teeth more prone to decay. In addition, the continual forces on the teeth and the jaws can lead to more serious issues, including weak teeth, tooth loss, jaw pain, and headaches, especially when grinding is accompanied by clenching. Grinding can occur for many reasons, including having misaligned teeth or an unbalanced bite or chronic stress.

How can I tell if I grind my teeth?

Sometimes, grinding is loud enough to disturb a sleep partner, who may clue you into your habit. But the best way to tell if you grind your teeth is to see the dentist regularly. The dentist can determine by looking at the surfaces of your teeth if you have a grinding habit, even if you aren't aware of one.

How can I break my tooth grinding habit?

One of the most common treatments for bruxism involves wearing a mouthguard, or night guard, while you sleep. These guards are designed to cushion your teeth, protecting tooth surfaces and relieving stress that can cause tooth loss and jaw pain. Night guards are custom-made to fit your mouth for exceptional comfort. If your grinding habit is caused by missing or crooked teeth, treatments like braces of Invisalign®, bridges, implants or dentures may help as well. Lifestyle changes like learning to manage stress, avoiding caffeine or alcohol especially before bedtime, and being mindful of grinding during the day may also help prevent damage from bruxism. The key is to have your grinding habit addressed as early as possible to prevent permanent harm to your teeth.

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