Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What To Do If You Grind Your Teeth At Night

Many people grind their teeth or clench their jaw from time to time. However, teeth grinding and jaw clenching can be very damaging if it is done for an extended period of time.

Medically known as bruxism, teeth grinding is a fairly common problem. Most people do it unknowingly while they are asleep. This condition can cause an eventual wearing down of the tooth surface or in severe cases, loosening and cracking of teeth. If left untreated, chronic teeth grinding can lead to the teeth being worn down to the gum line. In these cases, bridges, crowns, root canals or implants may be needed to restore the patient's teeth.

Additionally, bruxism can lead to jaw problems such as TMD/TMJ. This can even lead to hearing loss and a change in your facial appearance.

Thankfully, bruxism can be easy to combat by wearing a protective mouth guard during the night. If you aren't sure whether or not you grind your teeth at night, contact us to schedule an appointment: 919-782-0548. We will examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, which can include jaw tenderness and abnormalities in your teeth.

One of the leading causes of teeth grinding is stress and anxiety. If you suspect your teeth grinding is a result of emotional stress, talk to your doctor or contact us about stress relief treatments. Some suggestions a doctor may provide are anti-anxiety medication, muscle relaxers or perhaps counseling if you are dealing with something particularly traumatic or stressful.

Other tips for avoiding bruxism:
  • Cut back on caffeine and avoid alcohol. Research suggests that grinding intensifies after consuming these substances.
  • Avoid chewing gum. Chewing gum essentially gets your mouth "in the habit" of clenching your jaw.
  • Be aware of your jaw during the day. If you find yourself clenching or grinding throughout the day, try positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Dehydration may be linked to bruxism.
  • Try to reduce your stress level, especially before bed. Do something that relaxes you before falling asleep. Avoid exercising or working right before bedtime.
For more information or to seek treatment for bruxism or TMJ, contact Dr. Simon Melcher at 919-782-0548

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