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Clenching and Grinding: What You Should Know About Bruxism

cary woman grinding her teethDo you often wake up with a headache or an aching pain in your jaw or molars? Does your sleep partner complain that you are making noises that wake up him or her? Are you always at the dentist getting yet another filling repaired? If so, you might be clenching and grinding your teeth while you sleep. Called bruxism, this is a common involuntary behavior that can lead not only to pain, but also to cracked teeth and broken fillings. There are ways that you can stop clenching and grinding your teeth, leading to happier mornings and a healthier smile.

#1 Reduce Stress Levels

Reducing your overall stress levels can lead to less clenching and grinding. Easier said than done, right? Some ways that you might be able to alleviate some of your stress include incorporating exercise into your day, practicing yoga or meditation, and going to bed at the same time each night. Focusing your diet on fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, dairy products and whole grains can help, too.

If you are having excessive amounts of stress, talk to your physician about looking into having counseling or even medication, if warranted.

#2 Be More Aware During the Day

While grinding is common during sleep, clenching the teeth is something that many people do during the day. Try to become more aware of this habit. When you find yourself clenching, take some deep breaths and make the effort to rest your lips together while keeping your teeth apart. Be particularly attentive to this during the more stressful periods of your day, such as during your commute or while handling the dinner rush at home.

#3 Get a Night Guard

Your dentist can fabricate a night guard for you to wear during sleep. This is a thin appliance that fits over the teeth and gives your teeth something to grind against, so they’re not grinding against each other. It can also change the way your teeth come together to make it less likely that you will start clenching and grinding in your sleep.

If you have noticed that you are clenching and grinding your teeth more often, make an appointment with your dentist so the problem can be fixed before you damage any of your teeth or your fillings. In some cases, you will be referred to your doctor, as conditions like sleep apnea can cause bruxism, and you may need to be evaluated or treated.

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