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Many people grind their teeth from time to time. If teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism, only occurs occasionally, it usually does not harm the teeth. However, regular bruxism can damage the teeth and cause other oral health issues. Teeth grinding and clenching often occurs during sleep and can be caused by a misaligned bite, crooked or missing teeth, or a sleep disorder. Bruxism can also be caused by stress. Chronic teeth grinding can cause fractured, loosened, or lost teeth. Bruxism can also cause excessive wear on the teeth.

As bruxism often occurs during sleep, most people do not know that they grind their teeth. If you wake with a dull headache or a sore jaw, you may be grinding your teeth at night.

Follow these tips to help prevent teeth grinding:

• Avoid or reduce ingesting foods and drinks that contain caffeine, like coffee, chocolate, and soda.
• Avoid alcohol ingestion.
• Do not chew on pencils, pens, and other non-food objects. Avoid gum as well, as it trains you to clench your teeth.
• To train your jaw muscles to relax, place the tip of your tongue between your teeth if you notice yourself grinding or clenching your teeth during the day.
• To relax your jaw muscles at night, hold a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of the earlobe.

If you think you may be grinding or clenching your teeth, our dentist can examine your jaw and teeth for signs of bruxism. If needed, our dentist can provide a custom-made night guard, a covering worn over the teeth to protect them from injury from teeth grinding.