Many people grind their teeth from time to time. If teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism, only occurs occasionally, it usually does not harm the teeth. However, regular bruxism can damage the teeth and cause other oral health issues. Teeth grinding and clenching often occurs during sleep and can be caused by malocclusion (crooked teeth or a misaligned bite) or a sleep disorder. Bruxism can also be caused by stress.
As bruxism often occurs during sleep, most people do not know that they grind their teeth. If you wake with a dull headache or a sore jaw, you may be grinding your teeth at night.
Follow these tips to help prevent teeth grinding:
- Avoid or reduce intake of foods and drinks that contain caffeine, like coffee, chocolate, and soda.
- Avoid alcohol ingestion.
- Do not chew on pencils, pens, and other objects that are not food. Chewing gum trains you to clench your teeth, so avoid it as well.
- If you notice yourself clenching or grinding your teeth during the day, place the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This trains your jaw muscles to relax.
- Hold a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of the earlobe to relax your jaw muscles at night.
Talk to our dentist if you think that you may be clenching or grinding your teeth. Your jaw can be examined for signs of bruxism, like wear on the teeth and jaw tenderness. If needed, our dentist can provide a custom-made night guard, a covering worn over the teeth to protect them from injury from teeth grinding.