How are Americans dealing with these difficult economic times? They’re taking the stress out on their teeth, if you ask dentists. Nearly 75% of dentists surveyed by the Chicago Dental Society said their patients reported increased stress in their lives. And 65% of dentists said they have seen an increase in teeth clenching and teeth grinding among their patients.
Jaw clenching and teeth grinding, known as bruxism, can occur or increase during stressful times. Not only can it cause headaches and sleep problems, but it also can cause lasting problems for teeth and gums. It can lead to muscle inflammation, broken teeth and/or dental restorations (such as crowns and bridges). It can also be associated with TMJ problems.
Tips on how to manage teeth clenching and grinding:
- Take a pain reliever. If teeth clenching and grinding are causing you headaches and muscle soreness in your jaw, take an anti-inflammatory medication, like Advil or Aleve, shortly before bedtime.
- Massage. Try massaging the muscles along your jawline, from the joint near your ear all the way to your chin to relieve jaw soreness.
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and can lead to increased muscle tension. If cutting coffee/tea completely sends you into caffeine withdrawal, at least try to avoid it within several hours of bedtime.
- Be careful with your diet. When the jaw muscles get inflamed, it’s best to go easy on them for a while by avoiding foods that require vigorous chewing. Avoid hard and sticky foods like ice and gum. Also, cut your food into smaller pieces to avoid unhinging your jaw beyond its normal opening.
- Exercise. Exercise relieves stress and reduces anxiety, the two biggest culprits of grinding. Yoga can also help you sleep better.
- Meditate. Practice some deep breathing from your belly.
- Wear a night guard. If you have serious grinding and clenching issues, talk to your dentist about a mouth guard to wear at night. At the OrthoBee Orthodontics, we serve patients throughout Orange County and can help make your custom night guard so you can rest better.
If you need professional help, we are here for you. Please contact us for your complimentary consultation.
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