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Stress, anxiety can lead to teeth grinding

Take a deep breath and relax. Stress and anxiety may bring some unwanted oral health concerns, such as teeth grinding—and you may not even be aware of it.

Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding is when you clench your teeth, or slide your teeth back-and-forth over each other. Often, it occurs unconsciously while you sleep.

Although it’s not considered a dangerous disorder, it can put pressure on the jaw muscles and tissues, and wear down your teeth, according to the National Institutes of Health. It may lead to jaw pain, headaches and earaches, and permanent damage to the teeth.

While there are various causes to teeth grinding, daily stress may be the biggest trigger for most people. Symptoms include sensitivity in the teeth, sore jaw and insomnia.

To treat teeth grinding, the NIH recommends reducing your daily stress and learning various relaxation techniques, such as meditation. Relaxing your face and jaw muscles throughout the day—to make a habit out of it—can also help.

Often, avoiding hard foods such as candies and nuts, drinking plenty of water, and massaging the muscles of the neck, shoulders and face can help relieve or reduce any pain.

However, there are other possible causes of teeth grinding. These include: sleep disorders; an abnormal bite; misaligned teeth; and in children, irritation in the mouth and allergies. In such cases, dentists may provide you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth during sleep. Dentists may also recommend a muscle relaxant to be used before going to bed.

For more information on teeth grinding, visit www.MouthHealth.org/en/az-topics/t/teeth-grinding.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

09/11/2013

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