Maybe it’s an aggravating co-worker or a friend telling you the same story for the thousandth time, but we all clench our teeth once in a while — it’s a natural reaction to a stressful situation! However, some people chronically clench their teeth throughout the day or while they’re sleeping. How can you tell? If your jaw feels sore and you’re not sure why, you could be clenching your teeth too much. But, is it harmful?
Bruxism is the medical term for tooth grinding or clenching. Grinding can be quite harmful to the teeth as over time your teeth will become flat and can wear down. Clenching, however, doesn’t have that back-and-forward motion of grinding and usually doesn’t cause wear on the teeth. However, it can still cause significant soreness or pain in the jawbone, and prolonged clenching can cause damage to the jaw joint itself.
Treating a chronic clenching problem largely depends on when the clenching occurs. If you mainly clench your teeth during the day, you can make conscious efforts to stop once you recognize you’re doing the behavior. Nighttime clenching can be a bit harder to treat since you’re not aware of the behavior. Your dentist may recommend a bite guard to wear at night to help alleviate pressure on your teeth and jaw and also to prevent any grinding if that is a concurrent issue.
Have you dealt with bruxism? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!