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Headaches, Stiff Neck, Jaw Pain? You May Be a Teeth Grinder.

You can grind your coffee, have an axe to grind or do the daily grind — but when it comes to teeth grinding, this is something you should not ignore. If you suspect you are a victim of Bruxism, which is the grinding, gnashing or clenching of teeth, then you should continue reading.

What is Bruxism?
Waking up with sore teeth and jaws might be a sign that Bruxism has entered your life. This can happen at any age and is done unconsciously in your sleep, but it can also occur when you are awake. If you find yourself clenching your teeth while concentrating or stressed, this is a sign, and you need to be aware of the hazards to your smile and your health. Nighttime grinding will be more like rhythmic contractions. But both end up having the same effect.
Symptoms of teeth grinding
The most common symptom of teeth grinding is a headache. People who grind their teeth are three more times likely to suffer from headaches, according to the Bruxism Association. Other symptoms can vary per patient but may include temporomandibular (TMJ) discomfort, ear pain, muscle aches, stiffness of the shoulders and neck, and sleep disorders. Your teeth will show abnormal wear and mobility, which can lead to fractures and loss of teeth.
Preventing teeth grinding
To find out if stress is causing you to grind your teeth, you can start by eliminating stress triggers in your life. Join an exercise program or attend stress counseling. Learn what stresses you out by writing in a journal when you feel stressed; this can help you pinpoint certain triggers and find options to overcome them if possible.

A mouth guard can be fitted to you to protect your teeth while you sleep. Mouth guard appliances come with different names, including night guards, occlusal splints, occlusal bite guards, bite plates and bruxism appliances. Whatever name they go by, they all have one thing in common: they are custom made for your mouth. This custom fit allows your jaw to relax and protects your teeth. Usually worn at bedtime, this is the treatment of choice.

If a sleeping disorder is the culprit, treatment may reduce or eliminate the grinding all together.
Other tips to help stop the grinding include:

Avoid alcohol. Consuming alcohol seems to intensify the grinding.

Do not chew on pens, pencils or any non-food items.

Train yourself not to grind. Be aware and practice putting your tongue against your teeth. This allows your jaw to relax.

Avoid or cut back on drinks and foods that contain caffeine.

Massage your jawline gently to allow the muscles to relax.

Use warm compresses on both sides of the jaw to ease symptoms.

The best way to truly find out if you are a teeth grinder is to have an evaluation by a dentist. After the exam, your dentist will recommend the most appropriate treatment based on your symptoms.

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