Symptoms of stress are diverse. They can include stomach aches, headaches, increased heart rate, and even shortness of breath. But did you know that there’s a stress signal that’s related to your teeth?
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can result when you’re stressed, and you may be completely unaware that you’re doing it.
The thorough, patient-centered care you receive at Cisco Dental involves not only getting the appropriate treatment for your condition, but also being educated about steps you can take to prevent the problem from developing again.
It’s interesting to note that you can grind your teeth while awake — say, while you’re mulling a problem at work — or when you’re asleep. You’re not alone if you’re a tooth grinder, either — up to one-third of adults are daytime grinders, while 1 in 10 grind in their sleep.
If you’re awake when you grind your teeth, you may be able to become more aware of when you do it and take steps to ease your stress and stop grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw.
Sleep bruxism, however, can cause more damage, specifically because you don’t realize you’re doing it.
Those who tend to be more at risk for becoming teeth grinders are individuals with more intense, type A personalities, heavy coffee drinkers, smokers, and people who take some medications to address anxiety. You’re also more likely to be affected if others in your family grind their teeth.
Our teeth are workhorses — we use them to chew food, for example, for an entire lifetime. But the wear and tear that grinding leads to causes pain and a host of other problems:
These painful symptoms and damage, if left untreated, can lead to worse dental issues, including tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, and damage to both your teeth and any restorations you might have in place, such as crowns and dental implants.
Fortunately, Dr. Donald is able to offer solutions when it comes to your tooth grinding, as well as steps you can take at home to help.
He may recommend wearing a mouthguard at night, so your teeth are protected from the effects of grinding while you sleep. If the grinding-related damage to your teeth is severe, Dr. Donald may need to work to reshape the surfaces of your affected teeth or give you dental crowns to mitigate the damage.
You might also be advised to speak with your doctor about getting a prescription for muscle relaxers, which can help your jaw relax and address grinding during your sleep. If you take certain anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants, switching to another that isn’t linked to grinding is a good idea.
Some steps you can take on your own that calm grinding include assessing your stress level and taking steps to manage it, whether that means going to counseling, upping your exercise level, or getting evaluated for a sleep disorder.
Lifestyle alterations you can make that help discourage grinding include cutting down on alcohol and caffeine consumption. And Dr. Donald will implore you not to chew on objects like pencils, and even gum. It’s best to chew just when you eat.
Simply becoming more aware of jaw tension and the tendency to grit your teeth during the day is good, as is applying a warm cloth to your cheek near your earlobe in the evening. This helps relax tense jaw muscles.
If you’re experiencing pain and other complications related to teeth grinding, don’t suffer another day with them. Contact us for a consultation with Dr. Donald by calling our conveniently located Cisco, Texas, office at 254-442-2000 or using our convenient online booking tool.