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Have you ever awakened yourself in the middle of the night with a loud clenching or grinding sound? If so, you may want to speak with Dr. MacFarlane regarding a condition called bruxism.

Bruxism is a habit of grinding or clenching the teeth. Clenching means you tightly hold your top and bottom teeth together. Grinding occurs when you slide your teeth back and forth over each other.

There are a few symptoms that are characteristic of bruxism. People who suffer from bruxism may or may not experience the following:

  • Headache
  • Sore jaw
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Frequent toothaches
  • Facial pain
  • Worn or fractured tooth enamel
  • Loose teeth
  • Earache
  • Insomnia
  • How do you develop bruxism?

    Bruxism can develop at any age, and children as well as adults can have the habit of grinding their teeth. Although the causes of bruxism are not certain, several factors may be involved. Stressful situations, sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, and crooked or missing teeth may be responsible.

    Your dentist can diagnose bruxism by looking for unusual wear spots on your teeth. Regular dental checkups are important to detect damage in the early stages. Dr. MacFarlane can treat irregular wear on teeth and facial pain that may result from bruxism.

    How is bruxism treated?

    Depending on what is causing your bruxism, Dr. MacFarlane may recommend different treatment options.

    If stress is the cause of bruxism, DR. MacFarlane will recommend that you find ways to relax. Reading a book, listening to quiet music, taking a walk or a warm bath may help. You also may be asked to apply a warm washcloth or compress to the side of your face to help the muscles in your face relax. Practicing relaxation techniques may also be helpful. If you have difficulty handling stress, counseling may point to effective ways for dealing with stressful situations.

    Dr. MacFarlane may suggest wearing a night-guard while you sleep. Night-guards are helpful for bruxism caused by sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea), crooked or missing teeth or stress. Custom-made, the night-guard slips over the upper teeth and prevents contact with the lowers. It helps relieve some of the pressure of grinding or clenching, which can damage delicate jaw points.

    Treatment for patients with an abnormal bite may involve reducing the “high spots” on one or more teeth. For serious cases, Dr. MacFarlane may suggest reshaping or reconstructing the biting surfaces with dental ceramics, like onlays, crowns or bridges. If you bite is severely wore down, a “bite opening” may be necessary.

    The pain from bruxism can be relieved by paying attention to the symptoms, frequent dental visits and good communication with Dr. MacFarlane.