Is holiday stress causing teeth grinding or clenching while you sleep? Getting through the holidays can be stressful with all the parties, school programs, concerts and shopping for just the right gifts. The stress is short-lived if it only lasts for the month of December, but stress, plagues 47 percent of all Americans and is a common cause of overall health problems, including your oral health.
Stress can cause problems for your mouth, teeth and gums from teeth grinding and clenching, leading to broken and damaged teeth, headaches, neck and jaw pain and a host of other problems.
Stress, anxiety, and other problems can cause or exacerbate teeth grinding. Clenching your teeth, known as bruxism, can also cause headaches and soreness in the jaw, face or neck. Bruxism, exerts excessive force, upwards of 200 pounds of pressure, on the teeth and jaw joints and can damage your teeth and your tooth enamel by exposing deeper layers of your tooth.
Teeth grinding can occur in the daytime, but it usually happens during the night, although you may not be aware you are doing it. Do you wake up with a dull headache or other symptoms? Have you noticed that your teeth are flattened? It may be related to bruxism. The only way to find out if that is the issue is to see your dentist.
Dr. Robert Berry of Mountain Aire Dentistry has many years of dental experience and is efficient at the diagnosis of oral diseases and conditions. Dr. Berry can diagnose your oral health needs with state-of-the-art technology during a routine check-up.
Digital x-rays not only take a picture of your teeth, but also allow him to look at the roots below the gum line and your jaw bones. Knowing what your teeth look like from the inside out, Dr. Berry is better able to provide the oral care needed.
In the case of teeth grinding, he can observe symptoms, such as irregular wear on the surface of the teeth, and fit you with a night guard to protect your teeth from damage during sleep.
Stress can also lead to problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) located in front of your ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. Dr. Berry will test to see how your upper and lower teeth come together and will look for evidence of teeth grinding and/or problems with the TMJ. The American Dental Association cites that your dentist can determine the extent of your problem. This is not something you want to guess at. Although it is treatable, TMJ can be very painful, so make an appointment to see Dr. Berry soon.
In some cases, Dr. Berry might prescribe simple self-care practices, such as exercising your jaw to reduce teeth grinding or clenching that can be effective in easing TMJ symptoms.
Being under extreme stress may affect your frame of mind and cause you to skip brushing, flossing, and rinsing. If you don’t take good care of your mouth and teeth, you raise your chances of getting cavities or gum disease.
When you’re stressed, you may also resort to unhealthy eating habits, such as snacking on sugary foods or drinks, which raises your odds of tooth decay. It can also boost your chances of gum disease due to poor oral care.
Brushing your teeth, along with healthy eating, should be part of your daily routine, regardless of the stress factor. To have a healthy mouth:
Teeth grinding and clenching aren’t the only saboteurs to a healthy mouth that stress can produce. Consider the following other assailants on your oral health!
Cold sores, commonly referred to as fever blisters, are caused when you’re feeling upset, or stressed, triggering an outbreak. Fever blisters often heal on their own in a week to ten days, but the life of a cold sore can be reduced with medication, if caught in the early stages.
The virus that causes fever blisters is contagious, so avoid direct contact with others (kissing, touching the blister, touching others without washing your hands, etc.) Start treatment as soon as you notice one forming. Over-the-counter remedies and prescription antiviral drugs will help, if caught early. If you have outbreaks often, talk to Dr. Berry to see what treatment he recommends.
Canker sores can also be attributed to stress. They can cause intolerable pain and may also cause difficulty in drinking enough fluids, which can produce dry mouth and increase the chances of tooth decay. The mouth’s first line of defense against bacteria is saliva. Without it, there is an increased risk of tooth decay, gum disease and infection.
There are ways to take the “bite” out of teeth grinding and clenching your jaw. If stress is the cause, relaxation techniques may be recommended, such as physical therapy, muscle relaxants, counseling and a regular exercise routine to help reduce tension.
Dr. Berry will thoroughly check the condition of your mouth and teeth to see if stress is taking a toll on your oral health. Check out his website as he also provides a wide variety of dental services for the whole family.
Located in Broomfield, Colorado, Mountain Aire Dentistry also serves surrounding areas such as Westminster, Thornton, Lafayette, Erie and Boulder. Contact Dr. Berry for an appointment today at (303) 731-7755, and let him help you get through this most wonderful time of year!