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    Grinding through the night is not only the activity of exotic dancers, it is also a problem for the average guy or gal.

    Grinding and clenching your teeth (bruxism) at night is a subconscious activity performed by a large percentage of people. Some folks just clench their teeth, while others clench and then forcefully grind them together, often exerting pressures of several hundred pounds per square inch.
    If this is done with little pressure, or only on rare occasions, little damage is noticed. If it is done routinely, a whole host of problems will surface.

    Excessive wear will occur on back and front teeth. If you notice someone who has front teeth that are very short, and all the same size, with very straight edges, that person is probably a bruxer.

    Other signs are chipping and fractures of teeth, cold sensitivity, loose teeth, small notches in the teeth near the gum line, muscle soreness and headaches. Some will have one mild symptom, while the unlucky ones may have severe problems.

    So, you ask, why do we do these stupid, self-destructive jaw movements? They're maybe several reasons such as an uneven bite, neurological disorders, and stress. Some antidepressant medications have been linked to causing bruxism. Stress is probably the most common cause, often seen in students around exam time (Gee, what a surprise!).

    What can we do about this condition? Some dentists and medical doctors would just say, "Reduce or eliminate your stress". Easy to say, but that doesn't often work in the real world. A "niteguard" is usually made by your dentist to help with this condition. It is a plastic device custom-fitted to your mouth. It doesn't eliminate the grinding, but it controls the damage to your teeth (i.e. you grind the plastic, instead of your teeth and it can help to relax your jaw muscles). If a very poor bite is causing the bruxism, it is sometimes possible to correct with orthodontics, or reshaping your teeth so they mesh more evenly.
    During the daytime, people are less likely to grind their teeth because they are aware of what is going on. Of course when the jerk in front of you at the bank is trying to refinance his home, cashing in a gallon container of loose pennies, and asking for one more calendar, you would be justified in clenching your teeth, or worse.

    Most people are not aware of grinding at night, but their sleeping partners can be awakened by the loud noise (remember nails on a chalkboard in school).

    If you feel you have any symptoms of bruxism, see your dentist. It is much easier to prevent the wear on teeth, than it is to correct the destruction. We're talking crowns, root canals, big bucks, etc.

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