The unfortunate truth is that nowadays Americans are almost more stressed than ever. With the constant development of things like cell phones, cars, planes, and computers, we are living our lives more and more fast-paced each and every day. Americans are so stressed that it has become a constant area of study for the American Psychological Association (the APA).
But what does this mean? Stress can lead to a variety of things but the last thing you’d think is that it can take a heavy toll on your dental health. It’s no joke, stressed individuals are more likely to suffer from teeth grinding which can be detrimental to your teeth. Go to any dentist and they will all tell you stress and teeth grinding can not only destroy the enamel of your teeth, but can also lead to serious jaw problems and if it isn’t properly addressed it will only get worse with time.
While stress is one of major contributors to grinding your teeth, it isn’t the only cause. Teeth grinding can in fact be caused by a variety of things, some of which include: a misaligned bite, missing or broken teeth, and/or sleep disorders. But nonetheless if you find yourself grinding your teeth and you seem to have a relatively normal bite and sleep pattern then stress is more than likely the culprit of your problems.
Identifying the Problem
A lot of the time the people who suffer from teeth grinding aren’t even aware of it until their dentist points it out to them. You’d think it’d be obvious to someone if they were grinding their teeth but that isn’t always the case considering much of the time it happens while you are asleep or not really paying attention.
So if much of the time the problem occurs without us knowing how can we identify we have an issue in the first place? Well fortunately there a quite a few signs that you can keep an eye out for. Some of these signs include:
- Waking up in the morning with jaw pain or soreness
- Being told by someone else that you do it
- Catching yourself occasionally doing it (waking yourself up)
- Jaw pain and/or popping
- You or your dentist notice extreme tooth wear
Pinpointing the problem is half of it. Once you’re aware of your teeth grinding and you’ve realized when and how it happens, the process for fixing it becomes much more realistic.
The Harmful Effects of Tooth Grinding
Sure you’ve made it this far, and you’re aware that your teeth are grinding but is it really that big of deal? Why should you care? Well after hearing about the more serious effects you might reconsider your views.
Nine times out of ten the thing that makes people want to fix their teeth grinding problem is the intense jaw pain. Along with jaw discomfort, most people will experience difficulty chewing, sometimes difficulty talking, trouble sleeping, and intense headaches.
In addition to the pain, grinding teeth puts wear on the enamel of your teeth. And as your teeth wear, they become less and less protected and therefore more susceptible to to cavities, to breaking or cracking and chewing becomes even more difficult. That being said, cavities and poor dental hygiene can bring even more potential problems into the picture. As you can see, something as simple as grinding teeth can prove to be a domino effect and can lead you down paths that nobody wants to go down
How Do I Stop My Teeth From Grinding?
As we mentioned earlier the first and most primary step to overcoming the issue is to identify it in the first place and to pinpoint the nature of it as best as you can. After that you can discuss things with your dentist and they can help you make the necessary steps for improvement. Dentists can determine how severe your case is and they might point out things like a misaligned bite that you may not have been able to notice on your own.
The solutions for teeth grinding vary from case to case but a lot of the time simple things like a mouth guard can go a long way. Of course because there are more than just physical factors that contribute to grinding teeth, you might want to also consider making a few lifestyle changes to reduce stress in your day to day life.
The benefits of reducing stress in your life are exponential and I’m sure that we all wouldn’t mind a little less stress in our lives. Less stress means you aren’t as drained on a daily basis, you have more energy and drive, you’re less angry and frustrated, your brain functions improve, you can think more clearly, and your physical health is likely to be improved as well.
If that isn’t enough on its own to convince you to try and lead a stress-reduced lifestyle, maybe the painful impact it can have on your teeth will. For many people, the ongoing irritability that comes with stress results in many subconscious actions.
You ever notice yourself tapping your foot uncontrollably when you’re stressed or impatient? Or maybe you’ll play with your hair or subconsciously hum, everybody has their ticks. Well much of the time grinding your teeth can be like that. People will grind their teeth all day without even realizing it.
Because in most cases, teeth grinding occurs in our sleep, one of the easiest and most beneficial ways to reduce the chance of your teeth grinding is to follow a stress reduction routine every night. Studies show that cutting out TV and activity on your electronic devices in general before bed drastically increases your chances of having a relaxing night’s sleep.
Regular exercise, drinking plenty of water, and implementing good nutrition habits are all additional steps you can take to live a healthier, happier, lifestyle. It’s been proven again and again that simple, healthier choices throughout the day will result in less stress and better sleep. Plus, people who workout regularly experience endorphin boosts which further guarantees a positive mindset.
Avoiding things like nicotine, caffeine, and anything that will make you jittery and keep you awake are also beneficial habits you can implement. These changes may seem little at first, but long-term they can radically change your life for the better.