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Oral Health Buzz

Clenching Teeth at Night

Rachael Moshman

Grinding and clenching teeth at night is a condition called bruxism. It occurs in many people at some point in their lifetime. The severity and the duration of the problem vary according to individual circumstances. Here's what you need to know:

Symptoms that you're grinding or clenching your teeth at night

Facial pain and fatigue, especially in the jaw area, are common due to prolonged clenching of the muscles. Many people who suffer from bruxism wake up with headaches. Teeth often become painful, sensitive or loose. They may crack, chip or show wear in the enamel. Your sleeping partner may notice loud sounds when your teeth grind together, but it's also possible to do it silently.

Why is it happening?

Physical or emotional stress is the main culprit for bruxism. Physical factors frequently include fitness levels, nutrition, overall health and sleep habits. External emotional stressors can include money, work and relationship challenges.

Treatment options

Figuring out the source of the stress and addressing it can eliminate the grinding. Perform a relaxing routine before bed, such as light yoga, a warm bath or a cup of herbal tea. Some people say that placing a warm cloth over their jaw as they go to sleep helps reduce grinding and clenching.

See your dentist to determine if any damage has occurred as a result of grinding your teeth. Your dentist may suggest that you wear a night guard while you sleep. This is a device worn inside the mouth to cushion teeth during grinding and clenching. In severe cases, your doctor may recommend jaw exercises to help sooth and relax overworked muscles.

Grinding in children

Children can have problems with clenching and grinding at night as well. Just because they are young doesn't mean that they are immune to stress. If you hear your child grinding in the night, or they complain of headaches, tooth pain or facial discomfort, visit a pediatric dentist to see about a night guard.

When it isn't addressed, grinding and clenching often leads to serious damage in the teeth and jaws. It also leaves the sufferer exhausted and in pain. If you suspect grinding and clenching, contact your dentist today.

Learn more about clenching teeth at night in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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