Teeth grinding, also known as “bruxism,” is actually a fairly common phenomenon. Most people will experience a certain degree of teeth grinding at some point in their lives. If it only happens once in a while, it’s likely no cause for concern. However, if it happens a lot, it can cause serious damage to your teeth and put you at risk for other dental health problems. Prolonged teeth grinding puts unnecessary stress on your teeth, wearing them down over time. It can even lead to fractured teeth, or cause them to loosen and fall out. It can also cause damage to your jawbones and muscles.
It happens most frequently at night when you are asleep. So many people who suffer from teeth grinding are not actually aware that they do it! Some symptoms that can indicate a hidden problem: frequent headaches or sore jaws when waking up, worn teeth, and over-sensitive teeth. Since nocturnal teeth grinding happens when you are unconscious, it can be difficult, but not impossible, to stop.
Four things you can do to curb your teeth grinding
Wear a night guard
A night guard is a special kind of mouth guard. These differ from store-bought sports mouth guards because of how they are fitted by your dentist. Store-bought ones can eventually move your teeth out of position. A night guard helps discourage your jaws from grinding while you sleep, as well as protecting your teeth in the event of any continued grinding. A night guard that has been custom fitted by your dentist is the preferred choice to protect your teeth from nocturnal grinding. However, there are lots of other steps that you can take to limit the factors leading to teeth grinding.
Reduce your stress levels
Since built up stress and anxiety can lead to teeth grinding, stress relief is important. Seeing a therapist is a good option for many people. Regular exercise can actually help as well.
Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol have been linked to increases in teeth grinding. Curbing your intake of these substances may produce positive results.
Avoid chewing anything else besides food
Excessive chewing on anything habituates your jaw muscles to the constant motion, which can exacerbate grinding problems. If you are prone to teeth grinding, don’t chew on things like pencils, gum, or your fingernails during the day.