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Do you wake up with jaw pain or have persistent headaches? Has your spouse told you that you grind your teeth at night? Many people clench and grind their teeth, a condition called “bruxism.” Teeth grinding is treatable, and should not be left to just work itself out.

Bruxism has a variety of causes, including stress and anxiety. But most of the time, teeth grinding occurs during sleep and is likely caused by crooked teeth or an abnormal bite, or a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Over time, teeth grinding can wear down your teeth more than normal and cause fracturing or loosening of teeth, necessitating crowns, implants, or dentures. It can worsen TMJ disorders as well.

Teeth grinding is a significant problem for adults, and is also not uncommon in children. It most often occurs at the times when baby teeth and permanent teeth emerge. It also mostly occurs during sleep, so be aware of grinding noises your child makes.

The best way to treat bruxism is often to use a night guard while sleeping. Other treatments can also help. Stress reduction by counseling, exercise, or medication may be appropriate. You can also cut back on foods and drinks with caffeine, like chocolate and coffee, and avoid alcohol. These can intensify teeth grinding. Chewing on pencils or other non-food items accustoms your jaws to clenching. You can also relax jaw muscles before be with a warm cloth or heat pack.

Although symptoms are often benign, teeth clenching can cause serious problems. Call our Paterson, NJ, office with questions about bruxism or to set an appointment at Comfort Dental Care today.