Holiday Stress – Clenching & Grinding
The holidays offer plenty of reasons to be stressed out and anxious – working late to meet year end deadlines, office parties, studying for final exams but for many, the biggest source of holiday stress is family — the family dinner, the obligations, and the burden of family tradition.
As a dentist, I see how stress and anxiety can damage your teeth and gums.
Most people probably clench and grind their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.
One of the main causes of teeth grinding is stress and anxiety. Other causes are an abnormal bite, missing or crooked teeth.
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.
If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, schedule a dental visit today. At Centennial Smiles, we perform a thorough examination of your teeth, jaw muscles and soft tissues at every visit. A dull, constant headache, sore jaw, limited mouth opening, abnormalities and wear patterns on your teeth are strong indicators that you are grinding your teeth.
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear their teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.
Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.
We can custom fit a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.
If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, we can discuss options on how to reduce your stress at your next visit. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.
Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:
- Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as soft drinks, chocolate, and coffee.
- Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
- Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
- Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
- Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.