Teeth grinding can happen while you sleep... so you may not even know it's happening.
You may not even be aware you do it, but teeth grinding can cause serious damage.
"I just had pain in my jaw joints and didn't really know where it was coming from," Laura Alderman said.
During a dental exam, Laura Alderman found out she was grinding her teeth.
"Fortunately we caught it sooner rather than later so we were able to prevent... my teeth structure is still good, my jaw joints, I don't get tenderness in them anymore," Alderman said.
Alderman received an occlusal guard, it's made of a hard material that prevents grinding.
"They just took an impression. Made a guard. It came back in, they adjusted it and I wear it every night. I am a nighttime clencher and grinder," Alderman said.
If you're often waking up with a sore jaw or a headache, those are symptoms you shouldn't ignore.
Local dentist Dane Steffen says grinding mostly takes place at night, but can happen throughout the day too.
"What we see typically is severe attrition of the dentition, wearing of the teeth, they're flat. Temporomandibular disorders, pain, popping and clicking, those kinds of things," Steffen said.
Those disorders are linked to jaw pain and can affect jaw movement.
Steffen says in severe cases teeth can even fracture, but with the right treatment it can be prevented.
"If it's an airway issue maybe a referral to the doctor to investigate that. If it's not an airway issue, we can make you an occlusal splint to protect the jaw joints and also the teeth," Steffen said.
Even with mild symptoms, seeing your dentist may help you avoid pain or damage altogether.
"That small investment to be able to keep your teeth for your lifetime is a huge deal for me," Alderman said.
To speak with a dentist about a mouth guard for you, click here.
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You can brush your teeth two times a day, floss, and even use mouthwash and yet you're still not protected from a certain type of damage.