Most people probably grind and clench their teeth during sleep from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis, the teeth can be damaged and other complications can arise, such as jaw muscle discomfort or TMJ pain.
Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
Although the causes of bruxism are not really known, several factors may be involved. Stressful situations, an abnormal bite, and crooked or missing teeth appear to contribute. There is also some evidence that sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can cause teeth grinding.
Can Teeth Grinding Be Prevented?
Teeth grinding can be prevented with the use of a mouth guard. The mouth guard, supplied by a dentist, can fit over the teeth to prevent teeth from grinding against each other. Stress reduction and other lifestyle modifications, including the avoidance of alcohol and caffeine, may also be helpful. Your dentist may ask you questions about your sleep habits to see if a sleep study is needed.