Many Americans are suffering from an overload of stress during the current state of affairs. With schools and businesses closing and people losing their jobs and sources of income, even those who are weathering the storm fairly well are feeling the overwhelming gravity of the situation. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing how people live their lives worldwide.
People handle stress in a variety of ways. Some coping mechanisms are by choice, such as smoking, eating or working out. Some are involuntary, such as clenching or grinding your teeth. Even though you may fight against them, many coping mechanisms are not very healthy. Teeth grinding and clenching fit into this category. There are individuals who are not even aware that they have this habit.
Experiencing the Symptoms
Millions of Americans, some estimates say eight percent, grind their teeth while sleeping. You may not know that you are doing it, but you may be experiencing the symptoms:
- Your sleep partner may complain about the noise your teeth grinding is causing
- Disrupted sleep
- Worn tooth enamel
- Sensitivity in the teeth
- Dull headache in your temples
- Pain or soreness in your neck, face or jaw
- Tired or tight jaw muscles
- Fractured, loose or flattened teeth
- Damage to the inside of your cheek
- Your jaw is locked and you cannot open or close it completely
- Earache pain, though there is not a problem with your ear
Bruxism in children is reported by more than a third of parents. Fortunately, most kids grow out of this. Some individuals will grind their teeth throughout their lives. Dentures may mask the problem in older adults.
When Stress is a Factor
There are many reasons why a person may develop or continue to have bruxism. Studies show that highly motivated and driven people have a higher risk of it. Those who indulge in caffeine or use cigarettes before going to sleep may also be at a higher risk. And for some, stress is often a factor.
Anger, frustration, anxiety and stress can lead to teeth grinding. There is plenty of all that right now. Some individuals have bruxism only when under stress. When the stress goes away, so does the bruxism. Unfortunately, during these days, the stress of the world we live in remains, day after day after day.
Bruxism is hard on your teeth. You may be a good candidate for a dental mouthguard. This dental appliance is custom-made to fit over your teeth and prevent the upper and lower teeth from touching. It can help save your teeth from the damage bruxism can cause. There are other things you can also do to help address the problem.
If you clench or grind your teeth while you are awake, you can practice not grinding your teeth by placing the tip of your tongue between your teeth. You will notice that your jaw muscles begin to relax. Certain foods can increase the likelihood that you will grind your teeth, including those with caffeine. Chocolate, coffee and colas should be avoided. Alcohol also tends to make bruxism worse.
Find ways to help lower your stress levels. You may need to attend counseling. You can also try exercise. It can be difficult to not feel the stress of today’s world. At Helm Stanley Nejad Dentistry, we may not be able to alleviate your stress, but we may be able to help save your teeth from the damage cause by bruxism. Contact us for a consultation.