Christmas and the Holiday Season is full of joyful traditions, family, and fun….but it can also be busy and stressful. It’s important to recognize how stress can affect our bodies, namely our teeth. For many, it can cause or worsen clenching and teeth grinding in our sleep. In addition to stress and anxiety, teeth grinding can be caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or even tight shoulder, neck, and jaw muscles.
Are you a grinder? Do you catch yourself clenching your jaw? Chances are, even if you do, you may not know it. Ask yourself if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms:
•Frequent headaches (especially in the morning) or earaches
•Worn, broken or cracked teeth and/or fillings
•(Accelerated) gum recession
•Indentations on the lateral borders of the tongue
If so, you may need to wear a bite/night guard at night to reduce damage to teeth. A night guard may reduce bruxism, and will certainly prevent further tooth wear and damage.
Self-care techniques may also be effective. The Mayo Clinic suggests reducing stress and anxiety by doing yoga or meditating, avoiding stimulating substances in the evening (caffeinated coffee or tea, alcohol and smoking) as they may worsen grinding, practicing good sleep habits, and scheduling regular dental exams. Avoiding gum chewing can also be helpful.
See your Dentist to have your bite assessed and find out the best treatment option for you.