When you are sat at your desk working, or conducting a fitness class multiple times a day, running a busy restaurant or attending dozens of weekly meetings, are you aware that you may be doing damage to your teeth without even realising it?
“There is a condition known medically as ‘bruxism’, which can be seen in our teeth, and is usually caused by stress…”
A visit to my dentist for a regular check-up led to an intriguing conversation about the impact our teeth take from our modern high-stress lifestyles. As he explained to me, there is a condition known medically as ‘bruxism’, which can be seen in our teeth. It is usually caused by stress, sometimes with grinding of the teeth too, and can occur either at night or during the day without us becoming aware. Are you clenching your jaw as you read this? Perhaps you are, or maybe not. We are often so mindless to our physical experiences, we don’t notice.
“Are you clenching your jaw as you read this?”
If you are one of those who does clench their jaw, you will commonly find you also experience a lot of headaches, neck pain, a sore jaw and disrupted sleep. For many people, the problems are mild and don’t necessarily require treatment. However, it’s worth keeping an eye on because, if it does become bad, it can cause damage to your teeth and gums, such as wearing down the enamel, causing sensitivity or pushing down your gum through the pressure being taken by your other teeth. It can also be disruptive to your working day, especially if you find yourself getting migraines.
Although experienced by many and often without obvious symptoms, there are ways to quit clenching your teeth during your working day and at night. Here’s some key methods:
1. Reduce anxiety or stress from your life as much as possible – and don’t rule out professional counselling if you think it may help. There are many holistic methods of stress relief to explore, including exercise and meditation. If you clench your jaw at night, look at taking a bath before bedtime and switching your phone off early.
“If you clench your jaw at night, look at taking a bath before bedtime and switching your phone off early.”
2. If you and your dentist feel it is necessary, you could consider wearing either a mouth guard or splint during the night. This won’t stop you from clenching your jaw but will help to protect your teeth and redistribute how your teeth are taking the force.
3. Depending on how severe your case of bruxism is, you may want to consider taking a muscle relaxant before sleeping. This will help to stop your jaw from clenching during the night while you are unconscious. However, there is the risk that taking these types of drugs can be habit-forming and it is a decision that should be taken with caution, as recommended by a trained dentist who is familiar with your case history and the effects on your health.
4. There is a number of anecdotal evidence suggesting bruxism can be helped by acupuncture. Although this is yet to be clinically proven, many people report it works.
5. Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol in the evening can improve your quality of sleep and make you less likely to clench your teeth. It can ensure you are less stimulated and will enable you to relax much easier.