When you are under stress, it is common to experience headaches, racing heart, or feeling of being on the edge. But did you know that it can also make you grind your teeth? This clenching or grinding of the teeth is called bruxism, which can lead to several health issues if not treated adequately. Bruxism is an unconscious act of grinding the teeth, most commonly during the nighttime and is seen in people of all ages including children of very young age. It can lead to a painful condition called temporomandibular joint disorder.
Since bruxism is widely prevalent in kids, most parents mistake normal clenching of teeth to stress. Parents must know that bruxism is not always a sign that your child is under stress. However, you must give teeth grinding due importance if you observe it on a continuous basis over a period of time. The causes of bruxism are many and range from misaligned teeth to allergies. It becomes a problem only when you see:
- Wearing of Teeth
- Facial Muscle Spasm and Tension
- Excess Stress on the Jaw Joint
Coping with Teeth Grinding due to Stress
If you have come to the conclusion with the help of a dentist that the primary cause of your teeth grinding is stress, consider seeking professional treatment. Along with this, you must also start exercising as it is known to reduce stress and release endorphins or “happy hormones” in your brain, which act to counter stress. If your bruxism is related to a sleep disorder, your doctor may prescribe you a mild antidepressant. There are cases where hypnosis has been used successfully to treat this disorder.
Behavioral modification can also go a long way to help you deal with bruxism. The first thing to do is avoid or at least reduce the consumption of caffeinated foods and beverages like colas, coffee, tea, chocolate, etc. Not only will this help reduce bruxism, it will help keep your teeth whiter! Aside from caffeine, people tend to grind their teeth more after consuming alcohol, so refrain from it if possible.
If your child has the habit of chewing gum all the time, counsel your child and explain how it adds to the stress of already stressed jaw muscles. Notice the behavior of your child and see if he or she chews on pens or pencils. Additionally, you can place a warm cloth below your ear lobes at night just before going to sleep. This relaxes the jaw muscles and you are likely to grind your teeth less. You can even self-train to relax your muscles by placing your tongue between the teeth. This keeps you from grinding your teeth and also relaxes your jaw muscles.
Contact your hinsdale dentist today if you have any questions regarding bruxism.Return to Blog