Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Bruxism is a dentistry term for the grinding of teeth. Many people grind their teeth unknowingly, and most of the time this causes little to no damage. However, there are also those who excessively grind their teeth, which can cause serious damage such as TMJ and jaw pain.

Bruxism can happen in varying degrees of seriousness.  These degrees can consist of silent, clenching teeth contact or a loud, grating contact. Regardless of the severity of Bruxism, the fact is that serious damage can occur to teeth.  Most people who suffer from damaging Bruxism aren't aware that they grind their teeth, since many people only grind their teeth in their sleep. While it is less rare, damaging Bruxism can occur while the patient is wide awake during the daytime hours.

Drugs, alcohol and sleep disorders can all cause this condition to escalate, making it much worse. Studies show that children who develop Bruxism usually do so as a result of a bad cold or ear infection.  

What Causes Us To Grind Our Teeth?

Oddly enough, the cause of Bruxism is still widely unknown.  Many believe that increased stress and anxiety play a major role in people grinding their teeth.  It is also common for patients who have an abnormal or crooked bite to grind their teeth more than others.

The Harm Of Bruxism

Chronic grinding of teeth can lead to serious and damaging dental issues, such as TMJ and jaw pain.  In some instances, excessive teeth grinding can lead to tooth fractures, loosening of teeth, or the complete loss of a tooth or teeth.  If grinding is not dealt with, over time teeth can be worn down to stumps, which can become costly to fix.  In extreme cases, Bruxism can lead to hearing loss, the changing of how your face looks, extreme jaw pain, and TMJ.

How To Stop Grinding Your Teeth

One of the best ways to stop teeth grinding is through the use of custom fit mouth guards. While these mouth guards can help to protect your teeth, it is equally important to treat the triggers that cause you to grind your teeth.  If you grind your teeth because of stress, make sure to speak with Dr. Toms about stress reduction techniques that can be followed to reduce teeth grinding.  Exercise, counseling, and prescription drugs may also help to stop the triggers that cause teeth grinding.

Here are some other helpful hints to reduce Bruxism:
  • By cutting back on foods that contain caffeine, your nerves will be less stimulated and thus reduce teeth grinding in some cases.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.  Alcohol is proven to increase the intensity and frequency of teeth grinding.
  • Don't chew on pens, pencils, or gum.  Constant chewing can cause your jaw muscles to naturally clench, which makes your teeth more likely to grind.
  • Try to catch yourself when you’re grinding your teeth.  This will help you to identify triggers as well as help you to train yourself to relax.
  • Try to relax your jaw before bed.  Using a warm washcloth on the face before bed will help to relax your jaw.

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