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Bruxism

Teeth grinding during sleep is usually involuntary, and often times an individual suffering from the condition will not know until the symptoms are present or until a dental check up.  Also known medically as bruxism, this condition involves the constant grinding, gnashing or clenching of the teeth.  While mild cases may not require treatment, more serious cases can lead to future dental complications if left untreated.

Causes: There are many different reasons why bruxism occurs.  Even doctors today cannot determine the exact cause of teeth grinding.  Some of the more universal causes for bruxism include:

Unresolved anxiety, stress, tension of fear

Suppressed anger or frustration

An aggresive, competitive, hyperactive personality

Abnormal sleep problems or habits

Misalignment of upper and lower teeth

Crooked or missing teeth

In children, response to pain from teething or an earache

Complications or side effect of other medical diseases, such as Huntington's disease or Parkinson's disease

Side effects of other medication, such as antidepressants

Symptoms:

Continuous dull headaches

Sore or painful jaw

Heightened teeth sensitivity

Loose and/or fractured teeth with unknown reasons

Stress or insomnia

Earaches

Chronic facial pain

Damage on the inside of the cheeks or tongue from chewing

Worn tooth enamel 

Treatment:

Mouthguards:  the most common way to relieve teeth grinding is to wear a mouth guard during sleep. Your dentist can fit you with a customized mouth guard. 

Stress relief:  if your bruxism is caused by stress, fear or anxiety, you may find relief through stress management therapy.

Dental work:  if the teeth grinding is associated with dental problems, such as crooked or missing teeth, bruxism may be lessened by fixing such problems.  Sometimes, tooth crowns, braces or plints may be used to aid reconstructive dental work.