If you grind your teeth, you can hurt your jaw. It’s important to treat the problem because if you ignore it, your teeth, gums, and bone structure can all be affected. One typical problem is development of a temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The temporomandibular joint connects your upper and lower jaw. Maybe the grinding dislocates or misaligns it, a little or a lot; maybe it develops arthritis. That means your jaw might click or pop when you open or close your mouth, and you might also have a hard time speaking or eating. Your teeth might be more sensitive — which means they probably hurt — and you might experience headaches or neck aches. Of course, grinding isn’t the only way to hurt your jaw. You can also hurt it if you experience a traumatic injury.

Treatment varies. Muscle relaxants might work, or a painkiller like aspirin. Some people try biofeedback, or put a small plastic appliance in the mouth before going to bed. Surgery may be necessary, although often it can be done arthroscopically.

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