Many people grind or clench their teeth from time to time, especially when they are suffering from stress. This habit, medically known as bruxism, is usually harmless when it only happens occasionally. However, when grinding occurs on a regular basis it can cause damage to the teeth that may necessitate dental treatment. 
How do I know if I’m grinding my teeth? 
Tooth grinding frequently occurs at night, and you may not realise that you are doing it in your sleep. Signs of tooth grinding include: 
• Headaches, or facial pain in the cheeks, ears, or temples 
• Broken teeth or fillings 
• Pain and stiffness in the jaw joint 
• Teeth that are sensitive to cold temperatures 
• Flattened eye teeth (canine teeth) at the front of your mouth 
What are the risks of tooth grinding? 
Over time, chronic grinding can lead to fractured or broken teeth and damage to the jaw joint. Bruxism may also cause teeth to become loose through gum damage, because as they grind together the teeth are rocked back and forth in the gum. This may cause or worsen gum disease; the leading cause of tooth-loss in the UK. 
How can I stop grinding my teeth? 
Treatment for tooth grinding may depend on the reason you are developing the habit. Here are some suggestions you can try: 
Reduce stress levels – Bruxism is often the result of a high-stress lifestyle. If you are suffering from stress, try relaxing exercises before you go to bed, take up yoga, or attend a stress counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy course. You can also ask your doctor about a prescription for muscle relaxants. For many of us, our stresses are bound up with our every-day lives and so it is not realistic to change this. It may be necessary to simply prevent the consequences of the stress. 
Make a few lifestyle changes – Caffeine and alcohol can intensify grinding issues, so reducing your consumption of foods or drinks that contain these substances can help to alleviate the problem. Chewing gum should also be avoided because it allows the jaw muscles to get used to clenching, making tooth grinding more likely. If you notice yourself clenching or grinding your teeth during the day, train your jaw muscles to relax by placing the tip of your tongue between your teeth. 
Tackle your sleep disorder – If you suffer from snoring or disorders such as sleep apnoea, insomnia, or sleep paralysis, you are more likely to grind your teeth while you sleep. Your doctor may be able to help you treat these conditions. 
How can my dentist help? 
If you suffer from severe bruxism, the Park Dental Care team can help in a number of ways. To help prevent damage from clenching, we can construct an acrylic night guard to protect your teeth from grinding while you sleep. Alternatively, we can order “Cerezen” anti-bruxing devices, which you wear in your ears, rather like hearing aids. We also help many people restore their teeth, improving both comfort and their appearance by replacing tooth worn away by clenching with tooth-coloured composite resins. This technique is far more natural and more conservative that the crowns dentists used to restore teeth in years gone by. 
For more information or to make an appointment at Park Dental Care, please contact us today. We look forward to your visit. 
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