Grinding, also known as bruxism, is when you clench your teeth tightly together, sometimes while grinding them back and forth over each other. For some people, this is a reaction to stress. It can happen when you are awake or asleep. Many people don’t even realize they’re doing it until they start experiencing symptoms.
- pain in the jaw or teeth
- chipped or broken teeth or fillings
- flattened or worn down teeth
- sensitive teeth
- facial pain
- damaged cheek tissue
- noises when opening or closing your mouth (clicking or popping)
There are a few options to treat the symptoms of grinding. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be a temporary solution. Try warm wash cloths or massaging the muscles around your jaw (particularly where the upper and lower jaws connect - the temporomandibular joint). Your dentist can fabricate a custom-made splint or mouth guard for you to wear at night.
Stress isn’t the only cause of bruxism, but it’s perhaps the most common. A person’s teeth could be misaligned in such a way that grinding occurs naturally. Children, too, can experience grinding as their jaws grow and they begin to get adult teeth.