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It is common for most people to clench their teeth or grind them at some point in their lives. We can all do it, depending on what is happening in our lives. In times of deep stress, such as moving, changing schools or jobs, losing a loved one, or even a “good” stress like marrying or having a baby, can all cause stress resulting in nighttime teeth grinding, or sleep bruxism. As life-events settle down, the teeth grinding stops and your teeth are not adversely affected.

When it becomes a chronic behavior pattern though, it may become a sleep movement disorder which has longer lasting effects. If you are noticing that your teeth seem to be getting damaged at night (waking with jaw pain, teeth are hurting, tension headaches, etc.) and not feeling like you are getting enough restful sleep, your dentist may take a closer look at what is happening while you sleep.

If you sleep alone, you may become aware by noticing the above symptoms, but if you sleep with a partner, they may also be letting you know that you are keeping them up with your grinding and snoring. People who chronically snore or have obstructed sleep apnea also have a tendency towards bruxism. In the case of sleep apnea, the tooth grinding happens at the end of the interrupted breathing cycle. So combine a lack of restorative sleep and your pearly whites being worn down with time and you have an unhealthy situation!

Your dentist can help you preserve the health of your teeth and jawbone by making a tooth guard for you to wear during your sleep. This is a dental appliance made from acrylic to fit comfortably over your teeth while you sleep, allowing you to minimize grinding and clenching. It is easy to wear and maintain, and will go a long way in preserving your healthy smile.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our friendly staff at Country Club Dental 530.677.4457 to see what we can do to help you get a good night’s sleep again!