You might be a bruxer and not even know it.
According to the American Dental Association, a bruxer is someone who grinds, gnashes or clenches their teeth, often without even realizing it. Most Americans, it says, have suffered from bruxism at some point in their lives, and about a fifth of those who suffer from it don’t even know they have it.
Dentists say bruxism is usually caused by stress or anxiety, but sometimes, especially with children, it can be brought on by such things as allergies, tooth misalignment or a sleep disorder.
Typically, if you have bruxism, there are some telltale signs, including:
Flattened Teeth – Constant grinding of the teeth wears the teeth, flattening the tops or chipping or cracking them. Sometimes, there is so much wear that the inside of the tooth, the dentin is exposed.
Noises – Your partner may complain that you make a grinding noise with your teeth when you sleep.
Pain – The constant pressure you’re exerting on your jaw could lead to headaches, earaches, tired jaw muscles or even TMJ, a serious and painful inflammation of the jaw and its muscles.
Tongue Indentations – Teeth grinding can put pressure on the tongue, resulting in indentations.
If you have any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to have an immediate consultation with your dentist, who will likely start a monitoring program over several visits to confirm buxism and prescribe a remedy. If the teeth grinding is due to stress, some sort of therapy might be recommended to help you find ways of identifying and coping with your anxieties. In the case of nighttime grinders, the dentist might construct a dental mouthguard to be worn at night to avoid further damage to teeth.
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