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Life can be a real grind... ... and it could be harming your health, say dentists.

Byline: MARIE TURBILL ; SARAH DALE

IF you're waking up most mornings with a headache it could be the sign of a common problem that many people don't even realise they have. SARAH DALE finds out more.

RECESSION is taking its toll on our gnashers, according to dentists, who have reported more patients showing symptoms of bruxism - or grinding teeth.

They say stress is causing alarming numbers of us to grind our way through the night and, left untreated, it can lead to chronic headaches, jaw dysfunction and damaged teeth.

Dentist Deepa Rao of Genix Healthcare Dental Clinic on Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, says: "People grind their teeth mostly at night while sleeping but there are some cases of people clenching during the day.

"Patients aren't usually aware of the problem until a partner or spouse highlights it.

teeth "aware they're "Bruxism is normal function of teeth but at an abnormal frequency.

"People don't take it seriously, but left alone it can lead to problems."

Signs of bruxism WEARING of the tooth surface - although this is not always the first symptom.

* Pain in the jaw * Waking up with headache or jaw ache. * Scalloping on the edges of the tongue made by teeth marks.

harming What causes it BRUXISM can be caused by psychological factors, including stress, which may be eased by counselling.

If it's a malocclusion - or bad bite - then a splint is the best course of action.

it could don't The best advice is to go to the dentist as soon as you're aware of the problem, says dentist Deepa Rao.

How to treat it DENTIST Deepa Rao recommends fitting an occlusion splint, or mouth guard.

Removable and transparent, it covers all of the lower or upper teeth in the mouth and protects teeth and fillings.

"We normally recommend the splint during the night but if they are aware of doing it during the day, if they're clenching their teeth when they're stressed, they need to wear it during the day as well," says Deepa.

"It's like a holiday for the jaw. It gives the muscles and joints relief because continual grinding causes more serious problems such as TMJ dysfunction, fractured teeth, damaged restorations."

it can

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HEALTHY SOLUTION: Deepa Rao, left, and above with some of the teeth guards to help cope with grinding problems Pictures by DOUG MOODY
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 16, 2010
Words:390
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