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Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Clenching and Grinding are chewing forces that can affect the teeth – they can cause wear of the teeth, cracks in your teeth or pain in your jaw and headaches.
Consequences of Bruxism
Clenching and grinding can cause headaches and jaw muscle and facial muscle pain.
Clenching can result in cracks in teeth. When the cracks get bigger they can cause parts of the tooth to break. In severe case, the tooth may vertically crack through the centre of the tooth and will require extraction.
Grinding will result in tooth structure being worn away over time (attrition). The outer shell of tooth structure (enamel) is worn away first which exposes the inner part (dentine) they can become sensitive to cold.
Wear on your front teeth causes the teeth to shorten and become more translucent.
Clenching or grinding your teeth is a habit but can also be more common during stressful times in your life. Most people may grind their teeth at night time and it can be difficult to tell if you are doing this. You may find you wake up with a headache or sore jaw/teeth that gets better during the day.
A night guard, as recommended by your dentist, can prevent tooth wear from grinding if worn most nights.
Night guards don't necessarily stop grinding by protect teeth from wearing down from grinding.
Night guards are also strongly advised for people that clench their teeth as clenching involves very large forces which can crack teeth.
Bruxism in the day requires being aware that your teeth are apart while not eating or talking especially if you are susceptible to bruxism. And making sure you are not placing extra forces on your teeth and jaws by avoiding leaning on your hand at your desk. It is a good idea to take some time out to focus on yourself and to practice mindfulness to avoid clenching or grinding.