Clenching and Grinding

Question:  I’ve been told that I grind my teeth in my sleep. Can this habit be harmful to my teeth?

Answer: Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is very common. Most people probably grind or clench their teeth together from time to time. Occasional grinding may not be harmful, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other health complications can arise. Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Severe grinding can lead to damaged teeth, loosened teeth, or even tooth loss. It can affect the jaws, result in hearing loss, and can lead to TMJ disorder (malfunction of the jaw joint). The treatment for bruxism typically involves the fabrication of a mouth guard to protect the teeth from grinding during sleep. For severe cases in which tooth structure has been significantly damaged, costly dental work may be required to restore the teeth to proper function. If you think you may be affected by bruxism, call your dentist to schedule an evaluation today.