Teeth grinding, also known by its medical term “bruxism,” is a common occurrence among both children and adults, and is most likely caused by stress or anxiety. In most cases, people grind their teeth in their sleep without knowing. An achy jaw or constant headache are usually signs that you might be grinding your teeth at night.
Not only can bruxism cause severe damage to one’s teeth by flattening and wearing down teeth to stumps, it can also cause loss of hearing, jaw realignment, and even change the appearance of one’s face.
- Avoid drugs and/or alcohol, as consumption of drugs/alcohol tends to intensify teeth grinding during sleep
- Hold a warm washcloth against your cheek before going to sleep to help relax your jaw muscles
- Try to avoid caffeinated beverages, especially later into the evening
- Avoid chewing on any non-food items, like: gum, pencils, and pens
It might be difficult for parents to keep their kids from grinding their teeth, although bruxism is usually outgrown by adolescence. During tooth development in children, parents can help avoid grinding by decreasing stress in a child before bed, allowing their children to drink plenty of water (dehydration is thought to be linked to bruxism), and allow their children to stretch and exercise throughout the day to help relax.
If you think you or your child is suffering from teeth grinding, be sure to contact your dentist as soon as possible to be fitted for a mouth guard or to get more information on how to treat the problem.