Did you know that stress can affect your teeth? Chronic teeth grinding and clenching, a condition known as bruxism, is a side effect of stress. As many as 10 percent of patients at our Boise dental practice show symptoms of bruxism, and most of them don’t even know it! Nighttime teeth grinding can cause a number of painful problems if left unchecked, including permanent damage to your teeth.
Have you or a loved one experienced pain in the head, neck, or ears? Unaware of the source of the problem, many patients don’t address the condition until unexpected dental problems or discomfort drives them to the dentist.
Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism
- jaw pain
- worn, chipped, or broken teeth
- headaches or earaches
- sensitive teeth
- a scalloped tongue
- damaged cheeks, gums, or tongue from chewing
Do you have a habit of jaw clenching? If you suspect that bruxism might be the cause of your problems, ask a family member if they’ve noticed you clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. Those with bruxism often clench their jaws night and day. It’s very likely that someone else will notice your teeth grinding habit before you do.
TMD / TMJ
The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) connects your jaw to the skull, right in front of each ear. It acts as a hinge that allows your jaw to move so that you can chew or talk.
Various problems that can occur with the TMJ are called “TMD” (temporomandibular disorders). Due to the location of the joint, pain caused by TMD often manifests as earaches, headaches, or toothaches. It’s common for patients suffering from TMD to think they have an ear infection or a toothache when they seek treatment for it.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
There are several conditions that may cause bruxism (such as sleep apnea or crooked teeth), but it is often rooted in stress and anxiety. If it is stress related, it’s a physical manifestation of a psychological problem.
All of us grind our teeth from time to time, usually with no harm. Short-term or occasional clenching isn’t something patients should worry about, but chronic bruxism can lead to several complications, causing pain and jaw problems, damaging teeth, and necessitating restorations or orthodontic work. People with bruxism are also more likely to snore and have sleeping disorders.
While Modern Dental can help those with bruxism physically protect their teeth, patients also need to address the root of the problem. In an ideal world you could eliminate stress from your life altogether, but in the meantime here are some stress-management techniques to improve your mental and dental well-being.
- Regular exercise reduces stress, so stay active.
- Yoga, meditation, and simila
- r techniques can help you relax and stay positive.
- Maintain a healthy diet so your body has the energy to handle stress.
- Don’t turn to caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol to help you handle stress — in fact, avoid them as much as possible.
- Organize your schedule and keep a to-do list so you don’t lie awake at night reviewing all the tasks you’re afraid you’ll forget.
- Turn to friends and family for support.
- See a doctor or mental health professional if you are struggling with stress.
Bruxism Treatment in Boise
We might not be able to make you stop clenching that jaw, but we can create a custom mouthguard for bruxism patients. Nighttime mouthguards can protect teeth from grinding and reduce the pain that patients experience.
The idea of sleeping with a mouthguard may seem strange at first, but we’re not talking about a clunky boil-and-bite mouthguard from the sporting goods store. Our mouthguards are custom made in the Treasure Valley by experts at Gill Orthodontic Lab. They are durable and perfectly fitted so that you can rest comfortably while protecting your teeth.
Please contact our practice if you have any of the symptoms of bruxism or have other concerns about your teeth or jaw.