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Are You Grinding Your Teeth?

Man Grinding His Teeth

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the clenching or grinding of teeth. It’s a fairly common habit with about 1 in 3 exhibiting the behavior, yet most don’t even realize they’re affected. That’s partly because bruxism can occur while sleeping at night, but also because the habit develops subconsciously, usually due to stress or anxiety.

Recognizing the problem is the first step, and many patients can make great improvements by simply learning to position teeth, tongue, and lips properly. Some people mistakenly believe that teeth must touch all the time. Instead, teeth should rest a little apart, with the tongue slightly upward and lips shut.

Part of every checkup involves looking for physical signs of wear caused by clenching or grinding, and we may observe your condition over several visits to monitor the severity. If left unchecked, bruxism can wear down enamel and make the tips of teeth look flat. Eventually, teeth can become more sensitive as the dentin (interior tooth structure) is exposed, and teeth may also be more prone to chips, cracks, and decay.

How to Treat Clenching and Grinding

  • Learn to position teeth, tongue, and lips properly. Teeth should rest apart, with the tongue slightly upward and lips shut.
  • Reduce stress. You might not be able to do anything about having a stressful job, but try to find outlets for relief such as exercise, meditation, yoga, fishing or any hobby you enjoy!
  • Get enough sleep. A big part of stress is related to sleep—either by not getting enough of it or by having an irregular sleep schedule. You can’t make up for a lack of sleep by “sleeping in” on a later date, so get to bed on time, you’ll thank yourself in the morning!
  • For bruxism during the day, learn to recognize when it’s happening and chew something else! Sugar-free gum or a healthy snack such as an apple can be a good way to relieve some “mouth-stress.”
  • For bruxism at night, we can create a custom-fitted acrylic night guard that prevents any further damage. We take an impression so the fit of the mouth guard is very precise, and the material is very thin and comfortable to wear at night. Contact us today for a consultation!

About Dr. William J. Black

William Black earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis in 1988. He then went on to the UCLA School of Dentistry where he graduated in 1992. Following dental school, Dr. Black served in the U.S. Navy for 3 years as a dentist. He then settled in the Sacramento area where he opened his practice in 1996. Dr. Black is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), California Dental Association (CDA), Sacramento District Dental Society (SDDS), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), and the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). He is currently pursuing Mastership with the Academy of General Dentistry and accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Black has 8 children, works actively with the Boy Scouts of America, and enjoys gardening.

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