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Something Bad to Chew On


Just because you're old enough to know better, it doesn't mean you will not pick up bad habits. Bruxism is a common, and usually unrecognized, nightly routine that often develops in adults. Bruxing is the involuntary gnashing or grinding of teeth. It's frequently done unconsciously while sleeping and is often associated with emotional stress.


"A common characteristic among bruxers is the tendency to deny doing it," says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson William Kuttler, DDS, FAGD.


Studies show that grinding can lead to crumbling teeth, chronic headaches and constant jaw pain. "The challenge for both dentists and patients is to get bruxers to recognize the habit before irreversible damage occurs," says Dr. Kuttler. Despite showing many symptoms, such as awakening with tired jaws and headaches or flattened teeth and tooth pain, many patients say, 'I would never do that'," according to Dr. Kuttler. "People should realize that bruxism is often simply a reaction to stress."

Reviewed: January 2012