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Understanding Your Teeth Grinding Habit

woman woke up lack of sleep

Bruxism is the act of clenching or grinding your teeth. Some people grind their teeth when they are stressed, and many others do it while they sleep. In either case, bruxism is most commonly a sub-conscious habit. You may not know you are clenching or grinding as you are doing it, but you’ll likely be very aware of the effects of bruxism in other parts of your day. If teeth grinding is not addressed by a dentist, you could be at risk for TMJ problems, headaches, worn down teeth, damaged dental work, receding gums and much more.

Know Your Trigger

Like any habit that you are trying to break, it is important to first recognize what may be causing you to subconsciously grind your teeth or tightly clench your jaw. Bruxism is often reported as an emotional response to stress or anger. Other patients may find that they clench while they exercise or run, and a large number of teeth grinders discover they engage in their habit during the night or while they sleep. Some researchers say that nighttime bruxism is linked to depression or the use of alcohol, tobacco or caffeine.

Recognizing the Impact of Bruxism

While it is not uncommon for patients to be unaware of their teeth grinding habit, especially when it occurs at night, there are still some telltale signs that patients will experience during the day. If you are waking up with tension headaches, sore teeth/jaw, a popping jaw, ear pain or neck pain, you need to consider nighttime bruxism treatment.

Why is Bruxism So Harmful?

Perpetual or chronic teeth grinding involves much more exertion and force that your jaw muscles and teeth were designed to handle. During normal chewing, the force applied to the teeth is typically around 20-40 pounds per square inch (psi). However, during teeth grinding, this force can increase to as much as 250 psi or more. This increased force can cause strain on your jaw joint (TMJ) and damage to the teeth, including cracks, chips, and fractures. It can also cause wear and tear on the tooth enamel, leading to increased sensitivity and decay.

What Can You Do?

Teeth grinding is something we treat at Green Dental of Alexandria. Depending on each patient and circumstance, we may recommend a custom nightguard to protect your teeth while you sleep or finding better ways to cope or manage your stress so that you have less teeth grinding episodes. If you are concerned that bruxism is a part of your daily life, don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment at Green Dental of Alexandria today!

Posted on behalf of Dr. Hye Park, Green Dental of Alexandria

Green Dental of Alexandria – Alexandria Dentist
1725 Duke St, Suite GR03
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 549-1725

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