Teeth grinding is typically thought of as related to a sleep disorder. Many patients of Newberg family dental care provider Dr. Jennifer McLeod experience teeth grinding – clinically referred to as bruxism – at night as a symptom of a sleep disorder such as snoring and sleep apnea.
But there could be another reason why you grind your teeth that have nothing to do with how you sleep. While researchers don’t fully understand why, but intense emotions like tension, frustration, anger, stress and anxiety could be the root of your teeth grinding problem. This means the more stressed you become, the more likely you are to start grinding during the day or night.
The Secret Cause of Teeth Grinding
Frustration, anger and nervous tension can cause people to start showing the signs of teeth grinding, according to researchers. It’s not uncommon for patients who experience high daily stress levels to destroy their teeth through unconscious grinding.
While your teeth possess a remarkable resiliency to withstand that effects of chewing, chopping and biting, the excessive pressure caused by grinding can wear down tooth enamel. When tooth enamel becomes cracked or broken, it exposes the delicate interior of the tooth to the effects of harmful bacteria that causes decay. If left untreated, grinding can cause teeth to break down, and could result in permanent nerve damage.
When treating grinding, Newberg family dental care provider Dr. Jennifer McLeod will typically begin by recommending patients wear a mouth guard. Wearing a guard keeps teeth separated and soften that impact of any grinding or clenching that occurs. In addition to protecting a patient’s teeth, wearing a mouth guard can also serve as a useful self-care gauge. The deeper the notches a patient notices in his or her mouth guard, the more attention they need to pay to their emotional well-being.
Since grinding is often linked with stress, anxiety and anger management issues, it becomes essential to learn stress management techniques to eliminate the problem. If stress is the cause of a patient’s teeth grinding, it’s important they learn to find a way to relax, whether through exercise, mediation or counseling.
Other self-care tips that can help to reduce the risk of teeth grinding include listening to relaxing music, taking a warm bath and daily exercise. It’s also advisable to stay away from stimulating substance such as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol during the evening.
Protecting Your Oral Health
Teeth grinding often occurs unconsciously, meaning most patients are unaware they engage in the habit. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy for Dr. McLeod to spot the signs of bruxism during routine dental exams and checkups. If you think you suffer from grinding, schedule an appointment with Dr. McLeod to have your current oral health fully accessed.