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GIVE IT A REST: Delta Dental of Illinois Encourages Routine Dental Exams to Help Detect Nighttime Teeth Grinding
Date:2/24/2009

LISLE, Ill., Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- During National Sleep Awareness Week -- March 1-8 -- Delta Dental of Illinois is promoting the importance of a good night's sleep by raising awareness about a little-known effect of sleep deprivation: sleep bruxism.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070809/AQTH133LOGO)

Sleep bruxism is an unconscious grinding of teeth during sleep, commonly associated with sleep deprivation, stress or misalignment of teeth. Depending on its severity, the grinding may damage teeth and can cause pain and discomfort. Over time, teeth grinding wears down biting surfaces of teeth, and in chronic cases, can lead to fracturing, loosening or even loss of teeth.

"Since teeth grinding is an unconscious behavior, diagnosis can be tricky," said Dr. Katina Morelli, D.D.S., dental director for Delta Dental of Illinois. "So how does a dentist know if a patient grinds in their sleep? The most common symptoms are dull headaches or earaches, soreness of jawbone or muscles and chipped or worn teeth. Often a sleep partner will hear the grinding and may even be kept awake."

If undiagnosed and untreated, teeth grinding can lead to more serious conditions, such as temporomandibular disorders (TMD) -- characterized by intense jaw pain, locking or popping of the jaw joint and inability to open the mouth wide.

"Regular dental exams are the best way to detect teeth grinding," says Dr. Morelli. "It is much easier to find and correct the grinding problem than to fix a damaged tooth. I encourage all dentists to be aware of teeth grinding."

Fortunately, teeth grinding can be treated. The National Sleep Foundation suggests winding down before going to bed to give muscles time to fully relax. Applying a warm compress t
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SOURCE Delta Dental of Illinois
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