Teeth clenching and grinding is a common problem amongst men and women of all ages and backgrounds, and particularly for people who suffer from anxiety or sleep disorders. When it is an occasional occurrence, it shouldn’t cause too much harm. However, when it becomes a habit and a part of everyday life, pain, and damage to the teeth and jaw can quickly follow. Here is a breakdown of how to put a stop to it.
Why is it bad to clench and grind my teeth?
Mostly because frequent clenching and grinding can cause significant damage to your teeth, it can result in loosening and even fracturing of the teeth, which could result in a need for implants, root canals, and even dentures. Teeth clenching and grinding are also linked to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which results in chronic pain and affects the jaw’s movement.
Who is at risk of teeth grinding and clenching?
Anyone can fall victim to the bad habit of teeth grinding and clenching. It is most common in:
- Those who lead high-stress lifestyles
- Those who have sleep disorders
- People who take certain antidepressants (it is a known side effect)
- People with Parkinson’s Disease and dementia
There is also said to be a link between chronic teeth grinding and clenching and those who have been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), night terrors, and epilepsy.
How to stop teeth clenching and grinding
If you are someone who tends to clench and grind at night, the treatment is a lot more straightforward and will usually take the form of fitting you with a mouth guard, also commonly referred to as a ‘nightguard’. These mouth guards are customized to fit your mouth, so they are generally comfortable to wear and should not impact your quality of sleep. They are designed so that they encourage the relaxation of the jaw muscles during sleep to reduce the likelihood of clenching or grinding.
If you are someone who clenches or grinds their teeth during the day due to anxiety or stress, it is important to look to the cause rather than simply trying to treat the symptoms. You will need to focus your attention on identifying your reasons for feeling so stressed and anxious and work on reducing this stress and anxiety. You could consider medication, therapy, behavioral management, yoga, and meditation, etc.
Putting a stop to clenching and grinding is also a matter of awareness. Try to be more aware of when the clenching and grinding occurs, and do your best to relax your jaw whenever you notice that you are doing it. With enough perseverance and the right support, you should be able to break the habit over time.
In short, seek out the assistance of a therapist and/or a dentist for guidance to overcome this habit that could be wreaking havoc on your oral health. The sooner you get to the bottom of why you are doing it, the sooner you will be able to treat it.