It is no secret that the last year has been a very challenging time for most of us. COVID-19 has affected everyone globally in the last year and continues to be a critical factor of stress for many. Most are experiencing more stress and anxiety about their health, their work, the uncertainty of this situation or from the lockdowns that we have been experiencing. All of these factors have contributed to elevated stress and anxiety levels, which in turn have been manifesting in many ways connected to our oral health – including jaw clenching and jaw pain both during the day and night. In fact, a study published in October 2020 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine showed that the constant threat of illness, uncertainty and self-isolation due to this pandemic has caused an increase of patients suffering from bruxism from 10% to 30%. Furthermore, the severity of people already suffering from bruxism rose by about 15%. Acknowledging and being aware of the initial symptoms of bruxism will be key in order for preventing further teeth and jaw damage. As your Mississauga family dentist, we make it our duty to help educate you on all of the possibilities of harming your teeth and are always behind you in every step to achieving your optimal oral health.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a medical terminology for habitual and chronic teeth grinding or clenching. A person suffering from bruxism may not even be aware of this activity and the damage it creates until it is mentioned to them. The leading cause of teeth clenching is stress and anxiety, as it is a natural response of the body to stress. Some symptoms of teeth grinding are facial pain, pain and stiffness in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, disrupted sleep, and/or worn down teeth, leading to increased sensitivity and even tooth loss.
How Can Bruxism Affect You?
Habitual teeth grinding puts undue pressure on the teeth causing it to wear down rapidly as it grinds against each other. As a result, this thins the tooth’s enamel and could potentially expose the nerve of the tooth and increase the risk of potential cracking. This oftentimes can lead to sensitivity and pain if it progresses. Bruxism can also cause pain in the jaw, which can radiate to the neck and temple region, causing more frequent headaches. Generally, your teeth should not be touching throughout the day, unless you are actively eating and chewing your food. Instead, your jaw should be relaxed, with a bit of space between the teeth when your lips are closed.
Prevention and Treatment for Bruxism
If you have been told that you are making grinding noises in your sleep or your dentist sees signs of grinding, he or she can help. A custom bruxism night guard can be made in order to prevent tooth damage and help you sleep better at night. A night guard, along with practicing stress reduction tactics is the best way to prevent the effects associated with bruxism. As teeth clenching and grinding can also occur during the day time, it is important that you also become more mindful of where your jaw position is. Catching yourself when you are more tense and relaxing your muscles will help to alleviate the tension from grinding.
We can all agree that we are all so over this pandemic and the short and long term effects it is having on our health and the world. But as we are currently still going through it, it is important to be mindful of the physical manifestations of stress. As your Mississauga family dentist, we hope that we were able to help you through these uncertain times. If you would like to know more information about bruxism and custom night guards, please contact us at (905) 278-4397and we will be sure to get you the help you need and work with you in achieving all of your oral health goals!