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Nighttime Grinding

Man SleepingAnd the Stress Factor

Dentists and researchers aren’t completely agreed about the cause of nightly tooth-grinding, or bruxism. But they are aligned on two points:

  1. at least partly, it’s related to daily stress, and
  2. it’s happening to more people.

It may sound funny, but it’s no joke: without food to absorb the impact, teeth can grind by night at ten times the force required to chew a steak, researchers estimate. The result: front teeth can be worn nearly to the gumline while molars can be chipped and cracked.

Two responses to tooth-grinding are possible. One is dental, the other is biochemical.

If you’re aware of a nightly grinding habit, we can fit you with a special mouthguard, or nightguard, that resists damaged teeth.

But if your grinding is stress-related, reducing the stress can relieve the problem altogether.

Biochemically, you can lower your body’s stress response by breathing deeply and exhaling completely. With mouth closed, slowly inhale until you cannot take in any more air. Then slowly exhale until your lungs feel empty.

What you’re doing is increasing the oxygen you take in, and that forces you to relax. Try it the next time a stressful occasion arises, or just before bed.

About William J. Black, DDS

William Black earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis in 1988. He then went on to the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry, where he graduated in 1992. Following dental school, Dr. Black served in the Untied States Navy for 3 years as a dentist. He then settled in the Sacramento area where he opened his practice in 1996. Dr. Black is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), California Dental Association (CDA), Sacramento District Dental Society (SDDS), Academy of General Dentistry, and American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). He is currently pursuing Mastership with the Academy of General Dentistry and accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

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