Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) means grinding or clenching your teeth, a behavior that can occur when you're awake or asleep. It doesn't always cause problems, but if it does, it's considered a disorder. Problems can include sensitive, worn or broken teeth, headache, jaw pain, or other discomfort.
Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth (brux) during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea).
Doctors don't completely understand what causes bruxism. People may grind their teeth in response to stress or anxiety. In children, bruxism may also relate to allergy problems or pain from an earache or teething. A customized mouth guard can help prevent damage to teeth, but it will not stop bruxism.
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