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Bruxism is a condition in which you clench and/or grind your teeth. This can occur during the day but quite often occurs at night. Sometimes patients aren’t even aware that they are doing this. A bed partner may be awakened by the noise. Some other signs of grinding and clenching that the patient may notice are headaches, earaches, facial pain, jaw popping, chipped, worn, or flattened teeth, teeth that are hypersensitive to cold and brushing, and loose teeth.

Some common causes of bruxism are stress and tension, malalignment of the teeth, types of foods eaten, and habits such as gum chewing.

There are several things that can help alleviate the discoforts of bruxism. Warm moist heat on the muscles in front of the ears, relaxation techniques, massage, eliminate stress if possible, avoid hard and chewy food such as bagels, and reduce gum chewing.

Make sure to visit your dentist. Chipped teeth need to be repaired. Sometimes a muscle relaxer can be prescribed. A splint can be fabricated, which is a plastic device that is worn over the teeth to protect them and to take the pressure off the jaw muscles. Sometimes orthodontia is needed to move the teeth into better alignment. If you suspect you are grinding or clenching be sure to see your dentist for advice.