Stress is something that all of us feel from time to time, and it can have a significant impact on both our mental and physical wellbeing. At Dr Tony Heilberg Dentistry, we are seeing more and more patients visiting us with worn and cracked teeth from clenching and grinding, known as Bruxism. If you experience achy or clicking jaws, dull headaches that radiate from the temple, earaches, or bite marks on the tongue and cheeks, you might have Bruxism but don’t worry, there are several treatment options that can help.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
While the leading cause of bruxism is yet to be established, studies have indicated that a range of risk factors can make you more likely to grind and clench your teeth involuntarily. One of the leading factors is stress and anxiety. When a stressful situation is encountered during the day, teeth automatically clench as a natural reaction. During the night, this habit can easily carry over.
Other factors may include:
- Alcohol consumption – this can interrupt sleep patterns and can promote hyperactive muscle movement in the jaw.
- Smoking – nicotine is a stimulant that can overstimulate muscles resulting in teeth grinding.
- Snoring – the restriction of air entering the body can increase stress levels in the body, tightening the jaw.
- Caffeine – another stimulant that can increase muscle activity and promote jaw clenching.
- Medical disorders – some illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, epilepsy, sleep apnoea, and ADHD have all been linked to increased teeth grinding and clenching.
How Can a Nightguard Help?
A nightguard is a transparent, thin device worn over the biting surface of your upper teeth when sleeping. It prevents the top and bottom teeth from touching, which limits the ability to clench with force. There are over-the-counter options which can be bought from a pharmacy however, these aren’t made to suit your specific teeth and as such, may be uncomfortable and ineffective. A custom night guard is made to perfectly fit your mouth to ensure it is comfortable enough to wear throughout the night.
To create a custom nightguard, your dentist will take an impression of your upper and lower jaw. This impression is sent to a laboratory where your nightguard is custom made. Once ready, you will visit your dentist once more to ensure it fits snuggly and comfortably for maximum effectiveness.
Other Treatment Options
There are other things you can consider in addition to a custom nightguard, which may be particularly beneficial for those with severe Bruxism.
- Botox – Botox injected into the jaw muscles may reduce the pressure exerted on teeth and relieve any clenching-related problems.
- Stress reduction – Lowering your stress levels will not only benefit your teeth, but it will have significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Relaxing activities such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises may help. It’s also important that you increase your awareness of your behaviour during stressful periods, so that you can make a conscious effort to relax your jaw so that clenching doesn’t become a habit.
- Physical therapy – A therapist trained to treat Bruxism can teach you exercises to stretch, strengthen, and relax neck and jaw muscles, which can reduce muscle tension.
Want to Find Out More About Bruxism or Custom Nightguards?
Many people are unaware of how stress is impacting their teeth and oral health, and how beneficial a custom nightguard can be. If you are suffering from pain and stiffness in the jaw and surrounding muscles, disrupted sleep, worn teeth, or you think you may be grinding your teeth during the night, book an appointment with Dr Tony Heilberg today. As the local Parkdale dental clinic trusted by families for over 30 years, we can help with innovative solutions to care for your teeth, ensuring you live a healthy and happy life with a big, bright smile. To make an appointment with our dentists, Beaumaris, Cheltenham, and Parkdale locals can call 03 9583 2233 – new patients are welcome.