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When stressed or frustrated, you may unknowingly grind your teeth. Grinding your teeth, also known as bruxing, is very hard on your teeth and your jaw. It damages your tooth enamel, loosens your teeth, may cause tooth sensitivity, and wears out your jaw muscles. Damaged enamel leads to tooth decay, while loosened teeth and worn out jaw muscles can mean discomfort while chewing, as well as more jaw problems down the road. If periodontal disease is a concern, bruxing can cause exacerbation of the condition. Grinding also decreases the long term success of dental implants. Obviously, these heavy forces can cause some serious damage in the long run.
The most common reason for tooth grinding is stress. Your body can react subconsciously to stress by tooth grinding- especially in your sleep. Here are a few different ways to help you stop grinding your teeth:
- Catch yourself grinding your teeth and relax your jaw. You can stop your body from grinding your teeth if you catch yourself doing it. Try picking an everyday object, like a pencil, and every time you see the object, check yourself to make sure you aren’t grinding your teeth.
- Reduce stress and anxiety. Because most teeth grinding comes from stress, try to reduce the amount of stress in your life (this is good for the rest of your health too!)
- Get a mouth guard if you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep.
- Tooth alignment. You might be grinding your teeth because your teeth are out of alignment and they are grinding against each other (imagine an annoying pebble in your shoe). Braces or Invisalign may help ease your tooth grinding in this case.
- Ask us! If you can’t figure out why you’re grinding your teeth and don’t know what you can do to prevent it, just ask us!