Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

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Bruxism is a medical term used to describe the behaviour of clenching or grinding your teeth. Although clenching or grinding your teeth occasionally won't cause any oral health issues, regular bouts of bruxism can lead to a number of health problems. The term bruxism also describes several other behaviours such as biting your fingernails, the ends of pencils or the inside of your cheek. Many people suffering from bruxism only clench or grind while they sleep which often means that bruxism is only discovered when it starts causing oral health problems. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to a number of oral health issues including increased tooth sensitivity, pain in the jaw, muscle pain and headaches.

Recognising Bruxism

Because many bruxism sufferers clench and grind their teeth while sleeping, it is often hard to tell when you have this problem. Luckily there are a number of indicators which can help to identify bruxism. The teeth of bruxism sufferers often appear worn with the tips of the tooth becoming flat. In severe cases bruxism can cause so much wear that the enamel begins to come off, exposing the inside of the tooth and leading to increased sensitivity. Other signs of bruxism include pain in the jaw, indentations on the tongue or clicking and popping noises produced when using the jaw. It is important to visit your dentist regularly so that problems such as bruxism can be spotted early on and be treated.

Treatment for Bruxism

If you are experiencing any symptoms of bruxism, it is important to contact your dentist. Firstly, you will undergo a thorough oral examination to check the extent of the damage. The treatment option largely depends on how severe the damage is and you may be asked to have several follow up visits to observe the condition of your teeth. The most common treatment for bruxism is to be prescribed a specially designed mouth guard which will prevent damage to your teeth from night grinding. Therapy is also used to help patients learn how to correctly rest their teeth and prevent the behaviours associated with bruxism. Stress can also be a factor in bruxism and counselling is a popular treatment along with regular exercise.

Preventing Bruxism

There is several steps you can take to help prevent the damage caused by bruxism. There are a number of foods which research has shown to exacerbate the condition such as coffee, fizzy drinks and excessive amounts of alcohol. Chewing on pens or fingernails can also cause harm to your teeth so try to avoid these. Chewing gum can inadvertently condition your jaw muscles into clenching behaviours so try to moderate how much you chew. If you find yourself clenching, one common tip is to place your tongue between your teeth, training your jaw muscles to relax.

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