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Toothwear and grinding

Have you ever been told that you grind your teeth during the night? Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a relatively common problem, which can have negative implications for your dental health. It is estimated that around 10% of British adults grind their teeth.

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What exactly is bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical name for tooth grinding or clenching. This is usually a subconscious action, which takes place while you sleep. When you grind the teeth, the jaw clenches and the upper and lower arches of teeth rub against each other.

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What causes tooth grinding?

In many cases, there may not be a clear cause of bruxism, and some people are completely unaware that they grind their teeth until somebody else informs them. Stress and anxiety can be risk factors, and some people find that they grind their teeth when they feel run-down or they have a lot on their plates at home or at work. In other cases, grinding the teeth can be linked to loose restorations, including fillings and crowns, or associated with orthodontic issues that affect the bite. This is a term given to the way the top and bottom sets of teeth align when the jaw is relaxed.

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What are the signs and symptoms of bruxism?

Some people don’t know that they grind their teeth until somebody tells them or they visit a dentist who points out signs of wear and tear and additional symptoms such as headaches and pain in the jaw. If you regularly wake with aches and pains in your jaw, you experience headaches with no clear cause or you’ve noticed that your teeth look worn, these signs may be down to grinding your teeth.

If you grind your teeth infrequently, you may not notice any obvious symptoms, but persistent bruxism can contribute to:

  • Tooth damage
  • Receding gums
  • Stiffness in the neck and shoulders
  • Jaw pain
  • Restricted movement in the jaw
  • Earache
  • Swollen gums
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Can bruxism be treated?

The treatment options for bruxism are usually determined by the underlying cause. In some cases, there may be dental solutions, for example, when crowns are loose or the bite is uneven. In other cases, which are stress-related, it may be beneficial to see a specialist and to try self-help stress management techniques. One option we often recommend for patients who experience symptoms related to bruxism on a regular basis is wearing an appliance known as a bite guard, which is similar to a mouth guard, during the night. This customised device will prevent the teeth from coming together, reducing pressure on the jaw and protecting the enamel.
If your teeth are worn as a result of grinding, we can provide effective reshaping, restorative treatments to strengthen the affected teeth, restore your smile and increase your confidence.

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If you’re worried about bruxism, our dentists are here to help!

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