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Teeth grinding (scientifically called Bruxism) is a problem among children and adults alike. Approximately 15 to 33 percent of children grind their teeth. Most children lose the habit as they grow older but, for some, the habit follows them through adulthood. Most people grind their teeth sometimes, and this occasional grinding doesn’t usually pose much of a threat. When grinding occurs regularly, though, it might be time to make some changes.

Why do people grind their teeth?

Teeth grinding often occurs while one is sleeping, but common factors can include stress and anxiety. In some cases, teeth grinding can also be a sign of sleep apnea. Most cases of teeth-grinding occur, however, because of missing or crooked teeth or an abnormal bite.

Pay attention to your body in the mornings as waking up with dull, constant headaches or a sore jaw can be a sign that you might be grinding your teeth while you sleep.

Why is teeth grinding harmful?

If only done occasionally, teeth grinding is not a health risk. Regular teeth grinding can result in the loosening, loss, or fracture of the teeth. If this becomes the case, dentures may be needed as teeth are likely to turn to stumps and crowns and fillings will have no place in the mouth any longer. With no crowns, fillings, or sealants, teeth are unprotected from other elements, causing pain and opportunity for bacteria growth.

How can I stop grinding my teeth?

One option for stopping nighttime teeth grinding is using a mouth guard. The rubber from the mouth guard makes teeth grinding almost impossible because, if the individual tries to grind, the rubber just grinds together – not affecting the teeth.

If something like stress or anxiety is causing your teeth grinding, talk with your dentist about ways to deal with your stress.

If you want to know whether or not you grind your teeth, ask your dentist at your next appointment — he should be able to tell you just by looking at the structure of your teeth.