Combating clenching and grinding

A good percentage of morning headaches are from clenching and grinding while asleep.

30% of the population are unaware that they damage their teeth at night. Are you one of them?

Clenching and grinding of teeth is known as Bruxism. Most people are unaware that apart from meal times, teeth should not touch. This commonly occurs during sleep. Even minor contact can cause damage to teeth. Wearing of teeth results in poor cosmetics and an aged appearance. If clenching and grinding are allowed to continue, there is damage to the nerves of teeth resulting in pain and sensitivity. If untreated, the wear can become so severe that infection and dental abscesses can develop –requiring root canal therapy and crowns. Dental work (crowns, veneers, fillings, etc) is very prone to fractures in the presence of Bruxism. A fracture, even if small, usually requires replacing the entire restoration. Thus a great deal of time and money can be saved if dental work is protected. In addition, headaches and jaw pain often come from tired and tense clenching muscles that are working when they should be resting.

If you don’t know if you clench or grind take the Bruxism Self-Assessment Test below:

  • Have you had wear, damage or fractures of teeth, fillings or crowns?
  • Do your teeth touch or make contact when not chewing?
  • Do you get headaches or jaw pain on occasion?
  • Are your temples or jaw muscles tender when pressed?
  • Has anyone heard you grind your teeth during sleep?
  • Do you have occasional discomfort when chewing?
  • Do you have a clicking jaw?
  • Do you suffer from stress and anxiety, which increase levels of Bruxism and reduce saliva flow?

If you’ve answered, “yes” to any of these questions, Bruxism may well be causing significant problems in your mouth, on your health and in your life.

The best results in overcoming Bruxism can be achieved when jaw muscle relaxation, with the teeth apart during the day, is combined with the use of a splint or mouthguard during sleep. the latter has been found to reduce clenching intensity by 66%, and within a few days or weeks, morning headache pain, neck pain, sore jaws, and other related pain associated with involuntary intense clenching usually begin to disappear.

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