Many people grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding,
called bruxism, does not usually cause harm. But when teeth grinding occurs on a
regular basis, the teeth can become damaged and other complications can arise.
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during
sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite and missing or crooked teeth.
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their
teeth. However, a sore jaw in the morning is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times
people learn that they grind their teeth by someone who hears the grinding at night.
If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, please inform Dr. Nuhfer. She will
examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and
abnormalities in your teeth. Chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening,
or loss of teeth. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants,
partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.
Dr. Nuhfer can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during
sleep. If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, there are many options to reduce
your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a
physical therapist or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants may be offered.
Dr. Nuhfer advises patients who suspect they may be grinding their teeth while sleeping
to inform her of this as soon as possible. Nighttime teeth grinding can be prevented by
using a custom-fitted mouth guard. Chronic teeth grinding can lead to many serious
complications if left undiagnosed or untreated.
Dr. Nuhfer also reminds patients that teeth grinding is not limited to adults. Various
dental industry studies show that approximately one-third of children grind their teeth. Intervention is not usually required with preschool-age children but older children can
benefit from the use of a mouth guard to prevent grinding of their permanent teeth.
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