Learning to manage stress is important for your mental health. Yet, you may not have thought about how dealing with stressful events might be affecting your teeth. Teeth grinding is more likely to happen when you are going through challenges in life.
You may not be aware of it, but it gradually wears down the enamel on your teeth. Over time, you could face serious dental damage such as a cracked tooth.
Finding ways to relieve stress helps you to stop it from turning into a habit that is damaging to your tooth enamel.
Understand How Stress Affects Teeth
Teeth grinding and clenching places excessive pressure on your gums, ligaments and tooth enamel. Grinding your teeth over a long period of time can cause the surface of your teeth to wear down.
Your teeth can also develop small cracks that harbor bacteria. These stress fractures can cause pain and place you at a higher risk for tooth decay.
In extreme cases, excessive tooth grinding can cause your teeth to shift out of place. You can also break fillings and other restorations.
Watch for Signs of Teeth Grinding
Some people grind their teeth without knowing it. You may engage in this behavior while you sleep. You may also be so busy worrying about your circumstances that you don’t notice that you clench your jaw.
Many people first find out that they grind their teeth from their sleeping partner. If you are in a relationship or sleep in a room with others, then they may tell you that you make grinding noises as you sleep.
You may also notice that have facial pain or headaches. These may occur first thing in the morning. If you clench your jaw during the day, then the pain may increase by the evening.
Tooth pain when you bite down or chew is another sign of tooth grinding. Your dentist may also note wear and tear on your teeth that is indicative of grinding over a period of time.
Find Ways to Relieve Stress
Finding ways to relax can help to save your teeth. Try to carve out time in your day to focus on relaxation. You can try mediation, deep breathing and other relaxation exercises. Some people find that reading before bed or listening to music helps them to let go of their worries from the day.
Know How to Prevent Tooth Damage
In some cases, teeth grinding may continue despite your best efforts to relax. When this happens, we can prescribe you a special mouthguard to wear at night. This helps to create a protective barrier between your upper and lower jaws so that the teeth do not rub together.
Teeth grinders should also make sure to keep up with their dental appointments. It is often easier to repair a minor crack or worn down surface on a tooth early on before it leads to a major break.
At Shumway Dental Care, we always check for signs of teeth grinding during your checkups. We also encourage you to let us know if you notice symptoms such as facial pain or headaches. While you don’t have to share all of the details, please let us know if you are going through a stressful event. This way, we can help you find ways to relax your jaw and keep the stress from harming your teeth.