Are you grinding your teeth?
Stress, anxiety or sleep disruption are all conditions that lead to teeth grinding and jaw clenching during sleep or while awake.
Most people aren’t aware that they have nocturnal or awake bruxism, which is what the condition is known as, says the NHS.
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching have loads of causes. Besides stress, anxiety or depression, which can be assisted with stress management exercises, a balanced diet and relaxation and breathing techniques can really help combat the condition.
You need to consult your doctor if the condition is a result of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which disrupts your breathing, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy or gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD); Dentistry on Dusk advises.
Known causes for teeth grinding and jaw clenching include:
- Certain medicines such as an antidepressant type known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which includes paroxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline
- Sleep disorders include talking or mumbling in your sleep; kicking or punching out while sleeping; having sleep paralysis in which you can’t move when you fall asleep or wake up, and lastly, you hallucinate when in a semi-conscious state, hearing or seeing things that aren’t real.
- Drinking alcohol and smoking
- Indulging in recreational drugs, ecstasy and cocaine
- Overindulge in cups of tea and coffee, six and more cups throughout the day
Symptoms of Bruxism
Experts say you may not be aware that you are grinding your teeth, but the tell-tale signs are always there, especially if you end up with worn down and flattened teeth, which leads to sensitivity when chewing.
Your teeth or filling break, or you inexplicably lose one or two teeth or require dental work such as bridges, crowns, fillings or bonding. These are all long-term conditions where the bruxism was not detected early enough.
The first signs usually are:
- Disrupted sleep for you or your partner
- Facial pain and enlargement of facial muscles
- Chronic headaches and earache
- A stiff and painful jaw joint and surrounding muscles, which is known as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)
- And in severe cases, painful speaking, chewing and swallowing.
When it comes to problems with teeth and jaw structure and shape, the experts recommend that you see your dentist, while your doctor should be consulted for all other symptoms such as stress.
According to Dentistry on Dusk, eat a diet rich in magnesium foods such as dry roasted almonds, steamed or boiled spinach, fish, bananas, black beans, black-eyed peas, peanut butter and flaxseed. These aids in relaxing muscle tissue and blood vessels.
Swopping caffeinated beverages like coffee for green tea before going to sleep is likely to reduce the grinding of teeth. While other herbal teas like chamomile and jasmine relax the body, calm the mind and reduce nervous tension.
Drinking Turmeric Milk with a dash of honey is a superfood known for its anti-inflammatory ingredients. The amino acid tryptophan in the milk promotes deep sleep by relaxing the nervous system.
Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?
Chronic teeth grinding can sometimes result in the fracturing or loosening of teeth, says WebMD. In some cases, even tooth loss. The chronic grinding wears teeth down to stumps – extremely painful. When these events happen, patients could require bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures.
Severe grinding doesn’t just affect the teeth, but also affect the jaw, which can cause or worsen TMD/TMJ.
The first line of defence is usually mouth guards and splints. These act as a barrier between your teeth. They are available at the pharmacy, or your dentist can custom make a dental night guard, bite guard, or occlusal splint.
Custom-made guards fit your mouth and jaw. They and last longer than generic, over-the-counter mouth guards from the pharmacy. They alleviate the pains in the jaw, ears, facial muscles and the head,
Other treatments include:
- Warm compresses: to release muscle tension, rest one side of your face on a heating pad for 15 minutes and repeat on the other side
- Stress reduction techniques that assist your overall health are an excellent means to dispel pain, anxiety and stress. Meditation and deep breathing exercise takes practice, and so does at least two hour-long sessions of yoga a week. Both the quiet meditation and the slow stretching movements of yoga are sustainable practices that can relax and be uplifting for the body and mind in the long run.
- Tongue and jaw muscle relaxing exercises which consist of opening your mouth wide or sticking your tongue against your front teeth. You can also try Facial yoga exercises online.
In conclusion, counselling and talking about your worries could ease the mind, especially if it is combined with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), in which you find beneficial habits to replace harmful ones.
Like health insurance, dental insurance covers the cost of certain dental procedures, check-ups and emergencies either in full or to an agreed-upon percentage, depending on the type of plan you choose. In turn, the insured pays a monthly premium to the insurer. Dental insurance policies help many people to budget effectively.
As for Affinity Dental, there are three main tiers of dental insurance available at different various price points. This ensures that everyone can find the cover that caters to their needs and pocket. Each of these options covers certain specialist work to various degrees.