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Why You Should Stop Clenching Your Teeth

Clenching is a destructive habit that is to blame for a variety of teeth, jaw and gum problems.  The ideal resting position for your upper and lower jaw is slightly apart. 

Your upper and lower teeth should never touch, much less be clenched tightly together.  Since most clenching occurs while you are sleeping, many are not aware of it.  In this article, learn how to identify signs of clenching and how to prevent damage to your teeth and gums.

Pressure that comes from clenching causes teeth to "flex" at the gum line.

This constant pressure against your teeth and gums can make gums recede and teeth become abfracted.

Teeth can become sensitive or you may even get a toothache as a result of clenching.

Other results of constantly flexed jaw muscles include jaw soreness, headaches, and a stiff or sore neck.

Damage to Teeth

Clenching causes a receding gumline. When your gums recede, the roots of your teeth become exposed.

Roots don't have enamel to protect them and are more sensitive and decay easier and faster than enamel.

Roots are always a darker color, duller and not as smooth or shiny as enamel.

Some Exposed Roots Become Abfracted

Abfractions are small grooves or notches at your gumline. You can feel them when they are small. As they get bigger, you can see them.

Abfractions are tooth defects but are not cavities. They need to be repaired with a tooth colored filling if they get too deep. Repairing them prevents further damage.

Damage to Gums

Your gums will recede if you clench your teeth.

A receded gumline is not attractive, more difficult to clean, and most importantly doesn't provide support and protection to your teeth like a normal healthy gum line does.

Once gums recede too far, a surgery called a gum graft is needed.

Brushing too hard, using a firm toothbrush, or abrasive toothpaste can play a role in making abfraction and receding gum line worse.

But, many dentists believe clenching and grinding are the main causes of receding gumline and abfraction.

Damage to Muscles

Because they are constantly flexed, muscles in the head and neck get tired and sore from clenching teeth.

Damage to TMJ

Clenching teeth can put too much pressure on the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and cause this complicated  joint to be inflamed.

Clenching facts...

  • Clenching is more common than grinding.
  • Women are more likely to clench their teeth while men tend to grind their teeth.
  • It is most common to clench while sleeping.But, some teeth clenching occurs while awake. Stress, anger, or physical exertion can cause you to clench your teeth...Try chewing sugarless gum to break the habit. 

Are you clenching your teeth at night?

Pay close attention to your teeth right before falling asleep and right after waking up and be aware of these signs of clenching:

  • If your teeth are together, you are probably clenching your teeth in your sleep.
  • If you sleep with your hand cupped under your chin...probably clenching.
  • Tired, sore, or tense jaw muscles in the morning are tell-tale signs of clenching.
  • Teeth that are slightly loose when you wake up...another sign.
  • If you have headaches or neck aches you could be clenching your teeth.

What you can do...

Ask your dentist to help you indentify the signs and symptoms of clenching.

Try this relaxing moist-heat home remedy.

Teeth grinding guards provide teeth grinding protection and prevent damage from clenching too.  I love this non invasive but sure way to protect your teeth.

Next ~ How to stop grinding or clenching

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