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  • Writer's pictureADentalTip

The effects of Teeth Grinding and Clenching (Bruxism).

If you often wake up with a sore jaw or headache and don't know why, it could be because you might be grinding and/or clenching your teeth while you're asleep. Teeth grinding and clenching, most commonly known as bruxism in the dental world, can have harmful effects on your teeth if you're doing it on a regular basis.

What are the effects of grinding and clenching your teeth?

The most common effects grinding and clenching your teeth are attrition and abfraction respectively. In short, attrition is when the incisal or occlusal surface of the tooth starts to wear down little by little as a result of teeth constantly touching one another. Abfraction on the other hand is loss of tooth structure that happens near the gum line as a result of opposing teeth compressing with each other.

Both of these damages can result in severe tooth loss after many years, requiring dental work such as fillings, crowns or even root canals in order to save them. Often, dentists will attempt to repair an abfracted tooth with a filling, but from my experience these fillings never last more than a few years because patients will continue to clench causing the filling to fall off. Therefore finding a way to prevent further tooth damage should be the main concern.

How do I stop grinding or clenching my teeth?

It's very difficult for someone to stop grinding their teeth as this is often caused by anxiety, stress, simply a habit or malocclusion. Reducing your anxiety and stress levels may help decrease your chances of grinding and clenching, but if you're unsuccessful, then the best way to prevent damage to your teeth is to wear a night guard while you sleep.

From personal experience, I have to say that wearing a night guard is not an easy thing to do. They feel bulky and uncomfortable at first, but after a few weeks of using it daily you'll adapt to sleeping with it. However don't be surprised if you wake up and your night guard is on the floor on the side of your bed...

Do I grind my teeth?

Sometimes when I tell patients that there are signs on their teeth that may indicate they may be grinding and/or clenching. They often tell me that they don't feel like they clench or grind their teeth, because most teeth grinding/clenching occurs while you're asleep many people may not be aware that they grind their teeth. I always suggest that they ask who ever they sleep with if they grind/clench their teeth and usually they are the ones to confirm that the patients does in fact do that.

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