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Bruxism, also called teeth grinding, is when a person grinds, grates, or clenches their teeth. The teeth hit together forcefully, sometimes making a lot of noise. Many people grind at night and are not aware they are doing it while it is happening. However, when they wake up, their teeth, facial muscles, and jaw joints can be tired and sore.
Symptoms of bruxism:

  • Worn down teeth
  • Teeth that are sensitive to hot or cold
  • Loose teeth
  • Irritation of the cheeks and tongue (from biting or clenching them)
  • Sore muscles in the face and neck, especially temples, cheeks, and other muscles used for chewing
  • Symptoms can be similar to TMJ disorder (complete list of TMJ symptoms)

Causes of bruxism and clenching:

  • Medication side effects
  • Alcohol
  • Bite that is not lined up correctly
  • Habit (some doctors and researchers believe that bruxism is a habit that we control subconsciously)
  • Increased stress and/or anxiety
  • Sleep disorders

If you are having symptoms that you are concerned about, you should see your dentist for help.  In the meantime, there are things you can do at home (self care techniques) to relieve pain from bruxism and clenching.
Treatment for bruxism ranges from self-care techniques and lifestyle adjustments to alarms you can wear when you sleep, splints (mouth guards), medications, behavior therapy, and stress management.
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