What is bruxism?

Bruxism is better known as tooth grinding. This means you slide the chewing surface of your bottom teeth over the chewing surface of your top teeth. It is also often accompanied by clenching the teeth together.

Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.

Most people are unaware that they are grinding their teeth, but telltale signs may include a dull, constant headache, a sore jaw when you wake up, or teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose. Bruxism is normally done subconsciously. Most often a partner will be the one to alert you to it.

Bruxism can cause teeth to break, dental work to break or fall off, sensitivity and headaches. You may also notice pain on opening and closing your mouth.

There is no cure for this condition but it can be managed. Your dentist can fit you with a type of “mouthguard” known as an occlusal splint which will protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.

Stress is often a factor and your doctor or dentist can provide you with options to help reduce your stress. Some options may be an exercise program, or being tested for a sleep disorder.

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