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Stress is common among adults and children, and everyone deals with it in a different way. The body’s natural response to stress for some people is an action called teeth grinding. This habitual grinding of the teeth is called bruxism and can be very unhealthy. If our dentist, Dr. John Verville, determines that you have bruxism, he may provide you with a mouthpiece to protect your teeth from severe damage.

Bruxism symptoms include:

Dull Headaches — The constant rhythmic pounding of the grinding is known to cause pain within the skull
Fractured Teeth — After thousands of small impacts from the grinding, the tooth becomes weak and can easily fracture
Jaw Soreness — Just like any muscle in the body, the jaw muscles get sore after working hard
Loose Teeth — The steady oscillation of grinding can wiggle a tooth out of place

Bruxism is not only caused by stress, but also a disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea happens when breathing stops for a short period of time during sleep. A majority of sleep apnea cases happen when the airway is obstructed. Sometimes the tongue or soft palate blocks airflow, and other times various muscles relax, causing a collapse of the airway. When your body momentarily stops breathing, it responds by grinding your teeth together.

Sleep apnea can possibly be remedied through a “sleep study” and a steady treatment plan. Ask Dr. John Verville about a sleep apnea sleep study treatment.

So how can we prevent any form of bruxism, whether it is from sleep apnea or stress? A mouthpiece. There are two varieties of mouthpieces you can use to counteract grinding. Night guards protect your teeth from the effects of grinding by establishing a cushion in between your top and bottom teeth. The other kind, an oral appliance for those who also have sleep apnea or snore chronically, moves the lower jaw forward, opening breathing airways and minimizing the body’s tooth-grinding response.

If you have any questions or need tooth-grinding relief, you can call Dr. John D. Verville Family & Cosmetic Dentistry at 904-284-9911.