There’s no doubt that Americans are stressed. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), we worry about everything from the future of our nation, to money, work, crime and violence. What do many of us do when we’re stressed? Grind our teeth!
While it’s true that stress is one 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.
Do you grind your teeth? There are a few ways to determine if you do, 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
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Most people want to stop their teeth grinding due to the associated jaw pain, 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.
Here are some ways to put a stop to your teeth grinding habit:
- Better sleep routine: 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.
- Healthy choices during the day: 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. 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.
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. A night guard is one such possibility. Call 301-983-2165 to make an appointment for relief today!
At Potomac Dental Group, our promise to patients is to educate them about their teeth so they are empowered to make more informed decisions about their oral health and aesthetics. To schedule your next visit to our office, please contact our team.