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Have you ever been told to “keep a stiff upper lip” when you’re stressed out? If you take that advice literally, you might end up clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth! Dentists call this bruxism.

Bruxism is by nature unconscious, and the most common form of it occurs while you sleep. Stress can be a factor, but other things may contribute as well, such as sleep disorders like sleep apnea, a malocclusion or abnormal bite, and even alcohol and tobacco use.

Symptoms include dull headaches, jaw soreness, loose teeth, sensitive teeth, or fractured teeth. If you sleep with a partner, ask them to tell you if they notice you grinding your teeth while you are asleep.

If you think you may have bruxism, don’t worry. There are ways to treat it. Dr. Michael King can fit you with a customizable night guard to protect your teeth while you sleep. We may recommend that you take a muscle relaxant before bed, or that you try meditation, counseling or exercise to help you manage your stress.

Did you know that teeth grinding is common in children? Fortunately, due to the nature of their growing jaws and bites, the habit is not usually damaging and they usually outgrow it. The reasons for their condition are different than adults. Tooth grinding may be the result of mouth irritation, allergies or misaligned teeth.

Do you think you may have bruxism? Call 703-801-6166 to schedule an appointment with Team Dental at River Oaks and Burke in Burke, Virginia, and we’ll help you with diagnosis and treatment. We love to see you smile.