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Grinding, clenching, clacking and gnawing your teeth at night (or during the day) are all possible manifestations of Bruxism. Bruxism is defined by the American Dental Association as: The parafunctional (other then normal function) grinding of the teeth. More clearly defined by the Mayo Clinc, Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) is a condition in which you grind, gnaw or clench your teeth.
If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth together during the day (awake Bruxism), or clench or grind them at night (sleep bruxism). Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth (brux) during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea).
Aside from wearing your teeth down, bruxism suffers often wake up in the morning with pain in their jaw and headaches as a result of the pressure they are exerting on the surfaces of their teeth. These issues can also present themselves if you are a daytime bruxer and find yourself clenching or grinding at the computer or while driving your car.
Most often your dentist will notice a pattern of wear (attrition) in your teeth due to the forces exerted during the tooth to tooth grind. Minimally, this change to the occlusal surface (where the upper and lower teeth meet) may cause your teeth to become more susceptible to decay and may even cause the jaw to misalign and become painful.
Causes of Bruxism are unclear but there seems to be a relationship with stress.
Also a possible cause of bruxism is the side effect of prescribed medications and recreational drugs. It is thought that as many as 31% of adults suffer from bruxing.
In short, if your dentist has indicated you are grinding, clenching, clacking or gnawing your teeth and wearing them down in the process, they have likely suggested wearing a night guard (occlusal splint) while sleeping or an ultra thin guard during the day. The choice of which type of night guard, soft, hard or hybrid is generally dependent upon the severity of your bruxism. Impact Night Guards offers four types of guards that fit perfectly.
Ask your dentist for advice on where you should begin.
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