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Clenching and Grinding Teeth: What Is It and Why Do People Do It?

Bruxism is the medical term for clenching and grinding teeth. Clenching and grinding teeth every once in a while isn’t harmful, and most everyone does it. But if you’re doing this with your teeth on a regular basis, you’ll damage your teeth or cause some kind of oral health problem. Not a good thing!

What is the cause of clenching and grinding teeth?

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Abnormal bite
  • Missing or crooked teeth
  • Sleep apnea

How is regular clenching and grinding teeth harmful?

Severe clenching and grinding teeth on a regular basis can cause:

  • Fractures
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Wearing teeth down to stumps
  • A change in the appearance of your face

When clenching and grinding teeth causes this kind of damage, you may need bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures or even a full set of dentures.

Are you clenching and grinding your teeth?

Clenching and grinding teeth happens most often while you are sleeping, so you aren’t usually aware that you are doing it. Schedule an appointment to talk with us here at Sherwood Dental if:

  • You wake up with a dull, constant headache
  • You wake up with a sore jaw
  • A loved one tells you they hear you clenching and grinding your teeth in your sleep

Our dentists can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of clenching and grinding teeth. Jaw tenderness and excessive wear on your teeth are clear signs of bruxism.

Can clenching and grinding teeth be stopped?

Yes. Depending on the reason why you are clenching and grinding your teeth, our dentists will prescribe or suggest the following to help you with bruxism:

  • Fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep
  • Offer or suggest options to reduce your stress –
    • Attend stress counseling
    • Start an exercise program
    • See a physical therapist
    • Take muscle relaxants
  • Refer you to a sleep therapy clinic for treatment of a sleep disorder

There are things you can avoid and do to help stop clenching and teeth grinding your teeth.

  • Avoid or cut back on caffeine (colas, chocolate, coffee)
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid chewing on anything that is not food (pencils, pens)
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you are clenching or grinding your teeth during the day, place the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This will train your jaw muscles to relax.
  • Relax your jaw muscles at night with a warm washcloth. Hold the washcloth on your cheek in front of your earlobe.

Clenching and grinding teeth is not a problem for adults only. Children may clench and grind their teeth, too. Ask our dentists at Sherwood Dental to check your child’s teeth for signs of bruxism during your child’s next visit.

Learn more about damage to tooth enamel here.

Schedule an appointment with Sherwood Dental for a consultation. Call (780) 464-4166 or write to Let us help you prevent oral health problems or tooth damage caused by clenching or grinding teeth.

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