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How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth

Tips to prevent and treat Bruxism

You may be unfamiliar with the word "bruxism," but you're probably familiar with the actual behavior. Bruxism, also referred to as tooth grinding, is the excessive clenching, gnashing, or grinding of the teeth. It is an oral para-functional habit and is a fairly common problem among children and adults.

There are several symptoms commonly associated with bruxism, including:

  • Hypersensitive teeth
  • Aching or sore jaw muscles
  • Damage to dental work
  • Tooth and enamel wear
  • Headaches
  • Damage to teeth
  • Loosening of teeth
  • Fracturing of teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Tooth pain
  • Development of jaw joint disorders

However, many people who have some form of bruxism may not be aware of it and may only suffer minimal symptoms.

Types of Bruxism

There are two common types of bruxism: “sleep bruxism”, which occurs during sleep and “awake bruxism”, which occurs while a person is awake. The causes of bruxism are not entirely understood, but most likely stem from a multitude of factors. 

“Awake bruxism” is thought to be related to such factors as stress, anxiety, and depression. Habits such as pencil chewing, nail biting, jaw clenching, and cheek biting are also regarded as forms of awake bruxism. Awake bruxism is found to be more common amongst females, although females and males are reportedly affected in equal amounts by sleep bruxism.

“Sleep bruxism” is often a bigger problem for many because it is harder to control. It is sometimes done to such an excess that it damages the surfaces of the teeth, particularly the molar teeth and may contribute to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.

It has been reported that nearly 70 percent of bruxism occurs as a result of anxiety or stress that affects people subconsciously while they sleep, but each person’s symptoms are different. Whether or not bruxism actually causes each person pain and other problems can be a complicated mix of factors including diet, stress, posture, and sleep habits. In addition, bruxism may also occur as a side effect from taking certain medications such as certain psychotropic drugs as antidepressants and antipsychotics.

Regardless of whether you are familiar or not with the word “bruxism”, it's important to understand the effects and how it can impact the health of your teeth. People that suffer from bruxism come from various backgrounds, geographical areas and range in ages and while there's no known cure, there are ways to prevent teeth grinding.

Prevention and Treatment of Bruxism

Your dentist can fit you with a custom mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding while sleeping.

If stress appears to be the cause of grinding your teeth, consult a doctor about possible options to reduce your stress. Meanwhile, take up exercising, meditating, yoga, or see a physical therapist that specializes in bruxism cases to help control teeth grinding.

Other tips to help you stop grinding your teeth include:

  • Avoid or limit food and drink that contain caffeine
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Do not chew on anything that is not food
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Be aware and try to catch and stop yourself from clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Relax your jaw muscles before bedtime with a warm washcloth or hot water bottle held against your cheek right in front of the earlobe

Recommended treatments for bruxism typically include:

  • Mouth guards or mouth splints
  • Treating the underlying cause
  • Breaking the habit
  • Prevention and treatment of dental problems
  • Medication

Bruxism is not a dangerous, life-threatening disorder, but it can cause discomfort and pain and even permanent damage to your teeth.

Contact the experts at LaBell Dentistry in Woodinville or Bothell if you are suffering painful symptoms due to teeth grinding.

Prevention and treatment of bruxism is an important part of caring for your teeth. Just brush, floss and visit LaBell Dentistry for regular cleanings and checkups. Dr. Terry LaBell can help you decide what bruxism treatment will work for you. Call the office at 425.402.1246 or use the online contact form to schedule a consultation today.