Are you one of the 6 million people who grind their teeth?

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NHS figures suggest that 6 million adults in the UK grind their teeth (bruxism). If you’re one of those affected by bruxism, you may be putting your oral health at risk.

Grinding your teeth is a subconscious activity, which most people do while they sleep. Often, you may not even be aware that you grind your teeth until somebody else tells you. Grinding your teeth doesn’t just keep others awake at night. It can also damage your teeth and increase your risk of developing TMJ disorder.

TMJ disorder is a group of symptoms, which affects the TMJ, the temporomandibular joint. This joint is one of the most active in the body. It is involved in very common actions like opening and closing the mouth and moving the jaw from side to side. If you grind your teeth, you may find that you suffer from symptoms like clicking or popping noises when you move your jaw, stiffness and restricted movement in the jaw and pain when you open your mouth wide.

Dr Uchenna Okoye, from the London Smiling Dental Group, said that it’s very easy for dentists to spot the signs of bruxism. The teeth tend to be worn down, and you can often see pits and tiny chips, which can become stained very easily. Sometimes, there’s no clear reason for tooth grinding, but it can be linked to stress and anxiety. Orthodontic issues can also play a role.

Dr Okoye’s advice is for patients to see their dentists if they suffer from symptoms associated with TMJ disorder or they’ve been told that they grind their teeth. Dentists can provide patients with customised bite guards, which can be worn during the night to prevent the top and bottom arches of teeth coming into contact.

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