Have you ever considered how stress can affect your teeth? A condition we refer to as “bruxism” — chronic teeth grinding and clenching — is a byproduct of stress. About 10 percent of Bedford residents show signs of bruxism, even if they don’t know it — some people gnash their teeth while they sleep!
Regular grinding can have a number of painful side effects if left unchecked and can result in permanent damage to teeth.
The biggest obstacle to addressing bruxism is that most patients aren’t even aware of their condition. Do you or a loved one have a habit of jaw clenching? Perhaps there have been unexpected dental problems, headaches, or earaches?
Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism
- teeth are chipped, broken, or excessively worn
- pain and tightness in the jaw
- frequent headaches or earaches
- sensitive teeth
- a scalloped tongue
- damage to tongue, cheeks, or gums from chewing
If you suspect that bruxism might be the cause of your problems, check with a family member. It’s very likely that someone else will notice your teeth grinding habit before you do.
TMD: Temporomandibular Disorders
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull, just in front of each ear. The TMJ lets your jaw move so you can talk and chew.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are problems with the joint and can cause a range of symptoms. Due to the intensity and location, pain from TMD is often mistaken for earaches, ear infections, headaches, tinnitus, or toothaches.
Stress: The Culprit Behind Teeth Grinding
While there are other health conditions that may cause bruxism, nighttime teeth grinding is usually a result of chronic stress. It’s a physical symptom of a psychological problem. For most, it’s a temporary condition and patients have little to worry about. But severe bruxism can be uncomfortable or painful, and it can lead to dental complications. Eliminating stress altogether or learning effective management techniques will not only improve your mental health but protect your oral health as well.
- Exercise regularly, as activity has been shown to help with stress. A fit body fights stress better.
- Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or simply hobbies that provide periods of distraction can help you keep a positive attitude.
- A healthy diet provides the energy and nutrition your body needs. A body that is properly fueled has the resources needed to better handle stress.
- Reduce your consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, and don’t rely on substances to distract you from stress.
- Time management and organization will help you stay on top of a busy schedule and help you sleep soundly at night.
- Seek social support among friends and family. Find time for those you share interests with or whose company you enjoy.
- See your doctor or mental health professional if you are struggling to keep stress at bay.
Teeth Grinding Treatment in Bedford
If your case of bruxism is persistent, then see our Bedford dental practice so we can evaluate the risk to your oral health. We may not be able to eliminate your stress right away or change the habits of a lifelong teeth-grinder, but we can make you a custom mouthguard that will mitigate the effects of bruxism.
The idea of sleeping with a mouthguard may seem strange at first, but we’re not talking about your boil-and-bite special from the sporting goods section. Our mouthguards from Glidewell Labs are durable and comfortable, perfectly fit so that you can rest easy knowing your teeth are protected.
~Dr. Marea White