There’s no doubt that Americans are stressed. So much so that The American Psychological Association studies it. Recently they have discovered we are most stressed about the future of our nation, money, work, our current politic climate, crime and violence.
While we take a look at stress as a reason for why we grind our teeth, it may not be the only cause. Teeth grinding (or bruxism) can be caused by a misaligned bite, sleep disorders, missing or broken teeth, or, yes, stress.
How Do I Know if I Grind My Teeth?
There are a few ways to determine if you grind your teeth including:
- Waking with a sore jaw
- Being told by a partner who hears you do it
- Catching yourself doing it (you wake yourself up)
- Low grade headaches
- Pain or popping in your jaw
- Your dentist notices excessive tooth wear
Why Do I Need to Stop Grinding My Teeth?
Most people want to stop their teeth grinding due to the associated jaw pain. It may cause difficulty with chewing, extreme headaches, and discomfort in the jaw area. Grinding your teeth wears down the enamel on your teeth, making it more difficult to chew and leaving your teeth more susceptible to cavities and breaking
How Do I Stop Grinding My Teeth?
The first way to stop any problematic habit is to identify why it is happening. Your dentist can help you determine the severity of the grinding and if you have a bite misalignment or tooth concern that is causing it. From there, he or she can make suggestions about how to correct the problem, and if a tooth protecting device is recommended.
Your dentist has options in regards to dental mouth guards that will protect your teeth from enamel loss or damage due to teeth grinding.
We can also all benefit from stress reduction, so consider these options if you want to reduce teeth grinding due to stress or anxiety.
How to Lower Your Stress Before Bed
Since most teeth grinding happens when we sleep, following a stress reduction routine before bed is a great way to prepare your body for relaxation. First, turn off all electronic devices, including the TV at least 30 minutes before bed.Studies have shown that doing so prepares your mind for a better night’s sleep.
In addition, be sure to exercise, drink plenty of water and focus on good nutrition. Healthy choices during the day will reward you with less stress and better sleep. Plus, those who exercise get the endorphin boost that supports a positive mood. You should also avoid nicotine, caffeine and other substances that could keep you awake or jittery.
Do a relaxing activity. Consider reading, journaling, praying, meditating, or listening to soft relaxing music before bed. These all help slow your mind and body down to prepare for sleep.
Create consistent habits such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, and going to bed at the same time every night. Consistency creates a routine that your mind and body understands which conditions it to certain behaviors, such as relaxing and falling asleep.
If you are showing signs or symptoms of teeth grinding, it is best to see a dentist to determine if you have tooth damage, and how to mitigate it. Your dentist can help put your mind at ease with solutions to protect your good dental health and healthy smile.