What is it?

The act of grinding your upper teeth against your lower teeth, usually it is subconscious and while you sleep. Most people don’t even know that they grind their teeth. The effects of grinding are teeth that appear to be flattened over time. You may wake up with a sore jaw or stiff and hypertrophied muscles of mastication (the muscles involved in chewing). This may also cause headaches. Stress and anxiety are implicated as possible initiators of bruxism.

How do I know if I grind my teeth?

Estimates say that from 50-96% of adults have experienced bruxism. Most people are completely unaware of their habit. If you sleep with someone, they may be able to hear you grinding your teeth at night. Your dentist will see the effects of attrition (wear to your teeth) and can examine you for muscle and jaw pain.

How do I treat it?

Wearing a nightguard serves to reduce the stress to your teeth. You can have a custom fitted nightguard made at the dentist that is specifically for your teeth. This is different from the ‘thermoplastic’ nightguards you can buy at the drugstore. The drugstore ones are a softer plastic material and they can reduce the forces of bruxism but the custom nightguard appliance from the dentist reduce the forces the most. Since they are a sturdier plastic they also last much longer.

 

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