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Grinding Your Teeth Has Adverse Side Effects

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Do you grind or clench your teeth while you sleep? The truth is, most people occasionally do this at night without even knowing it. It is usually a loved one kept awake due to the grinding who detects the habit.

The grinding or clenching of teeth is medically referred to as bruxism. Most people who suffer from occasional bruxism don't damage their teeth and jaws. However, if constant bruxism is a problem, damage to the teeth can occur. In severe cases, a patient's jaws and hearing can also be affected.

The Pennsylvania Dental Association reminds the public that regular dental checkups every six months can also help detect bruxism.

If most people are unaware that they grind their teeth while they sleep, how is bruxism detected and treated? While some people noticeably grind their teeth, others make no sound, which makes bruxism even harder to discover. Waking up with a constant, dull headache or sore jaws are symptoms of bruxism. If you suspect you suffer from this, it is important to consult your dentist.

According to Dr. Bruce Terry, a PDA member and endodontist from Wayne, grinding and clenching can often contribute to toothache-like symptoms. Patients often feel more sensitivity to biting and to hot and cold foods from excessive clenching. Ignoring the problem can lead to tooth and root fractures, root canal treatment or even tooth loss.

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"Many patients that come to me for toothache related pain actually have traumatic induced toothaches from clenching and grinding their teeth," Dr. Terry said. "If the pattern can be stopped then the pain goes away without unnecessary dental work."

PDA also recommends the following techniques to help stop teeth grinding:

* Find ways to reduce your stress level and relax.

* Avoid or limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume.

* Ask your dentist about the use of a nightguard.

* If an abnormal bite is the cause of teeth grinding, your dentist can easily treat the improper alignment.