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When life is a grind, teeth suffer

CHICAGO, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A U.S. survey indicates 65 percent of dentists report an increase in patients' jaw clenching and teeth grinding.

The Chicago Dental Society survey in 2009 found nearly 75 percent of dentists reported their patients say the level of stress has increased in their lives.

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Experts at the Dental Society say patients may sometimes take their stress out on their mouths. People with serious grinding and clenching --- bruxism -- need to talk to their dentist about wearing a mouth guard at night.

Severe bruxism can cause headaches or sleep problems and can lead to muscle inflammation, broken teeth or damaged dental work. Other steps these dentists recommend to ease tooth grinding include:

-- Relieving stress and anxiety through exercising and using relaxation techniques such as meditation. Deep breathing before bedtime can be a big help.

-- Avoiding caffeine, especially in the hours before going to bed.

-- Increasing water consumption.

-- Those with headaches or muscle soreness should avoid foods that require vigorous chewing and take an anti-inflammatory like Advil or Aleve shortly before bedtime. Massaging the muscles along the jaw line may help relieve soreness.

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