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Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

What is teeth grinding?

Bruxism is a condition of grinding or clenching your teeth which often occurs while you are sleeping, but it can also occur when you are awake. When you grind/clench, the force exerted on your teeth is many times greater than during normal chewing. The forces can cause flattened or worn-down teeth, teeth chipped at the gum line, fractured teeth, loss of teeth, and damage to the jaw bone or jaw joints.

It is common to find people that clench or grind their teeth occasionally throughout their lives. However, chronic clenching and grinding can cause long term damage and problems with your teeth and mouth in general.

Why do people grind their teeth?

Stress and anxiety is often a factor. If this is a the case, a variety of stress reduction techniques may be recommended. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea. Medication is also recommended to temporarily reduce stress and relieve pain. Sometimes, missing teeth, worn-down teeth, or teeth that are out of alignment may cause grinding and clenching. In this case, bridges, crowns, equilibration, orthodontics, or other dental treatments can restore your bite and eliminate grinding and clenching.

A common and effective treatment for stopping the damage caused by bruxism is the use of a night guard. This is a plastic device that fits over your top or bottom teeth and works to absorb the grinding force. A custom night guard made from a model of your teeth offers the most effective and comfortable protection. No matter what is causing your bruxism, it is important to treat it early on to prevent damage and restore harmony to your mouth.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose

  • A sore, tired jaw

  • Difficulty opening and closing

  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity

  • Earache, although it’s not actually a problem with your ear

  • Headache

  • Pain in jaw joints

  • Sleep disruptions

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner

  • Sometimes, symptoms are not obvious

When to see a doctor?

See your dentist or doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above or have other concerns about your teeth or jaw.

If you would like to learn more about bruxism, contact Dr. Brian Y Kuo DDS FAGD at 626-461-5659 or write to us at Dr. Kuo can provide custom night guards to help you stop harmful grinding during your sleep or advise you on any dental health habits or behaviors that can help you get relief. We proudly serve Arcadia and all surrounding areas.


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