The Truth on Teeth Grinding and Anxiety
Many people do not realize that anxiety is a leading cause of people grinding their teeth or, what is known in dental circles as, ‘bruxism.’ Frequently, a visit to the dentist involves the question of whether or not you are prone to grinding your teeth when you sleep. Your dentist asks this because this habit can not only cause your teeth to wear down, but also can result in ear pains, jaw aches, sleep disturbances, and headaches if left untreated. At Klamath Falls Dental Specialists, we want to make sure you have all the information you need about teeth grinding and anxiety. This includes recipes for being less stressed and what to look out for.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is when you clench your teeth too hard or repeatedly mash them against each other. A majority of bruxism occurs when people are asleep, so the sufferer may have no idea that they are causing harm to their teeth. This repeated grinding action can unevenly wear down teeth and place increased stress on teeth and jaw. Anxiety and stress are the leading factors in teeth grinding, so finding ways to alleviate stress in your life is key in combating bruxism.
Relax Your Mouth and Your Body
Relaxing the muscles in the jaw and in the entire face can help decrease the pressure and lessen the impact of teeth grinding. Relaxation options such as yoga, guided meditation, or exercise can help teach your body to stress less. If there are emotional issues that you may need help with, counseling or therapy may be a great option, so that your teeth and jaw do not bear the brunt of your stress. Routine exercise and looking at your diet can also be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety that can cause you to grind your teeth.
Disorders, Guards, and Missing Teeth
Bruxism is not only brought on by stress however, as some people have a sleep disorder which can cause frequent teeth grinding. Dentists may suggest a mouth guard to shield your teeth from grinding effects when you sleep. In more severe cases, muscle relaxants can also be prescribed and taken before you sleep help rest the teeth and jaw. People with missing teeth or misaligned jaw or bites are also more susceptible to bruxism and should be aware of this risk.
Habitual Teeth Grinding
Some individuals have what is called chronic bruxism, which can cause very serious wear to teeth, where they are ground down to worrying levels. These habitual conditions can also lead to such symptoms as TMJ or other severe jaw pain. Taking some antidepressants have also been shown to induce bruxism as a part of their side effects. Sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea can also cause teeth grinding.
What To Do
Many times, bruxism sufferers have no idea that they are doing it until some close to them tells them, or a visit to a dental professional makes them aware of it. Dentists and specialists can look carefully at your teeth and mouth to see if you are grinding your teeth and make sure you know all the treatment options. Sometimes, the fix is as easy as a slight diet modification like cutting down on alcohol or caffeine.
If you think you might at risk of bruxism or teeth grinding, please contact us today to make an appointment.