Stressing & Grinding — What is Bruxism?
Bruxism and oral health during stressful times
This year has been full of twists and tight turns for everyone. Many of us feel the effects of mounting stress, worry, anger, and anxiety in a multitude of ways - both emotionally and physically. At The Gleamery, we want to bring awareness to how this might impact your oral health and overall wellbeing. Paying attention to the signs while they seem small may not only help stop a potential cracked tooth, root canal, or long-term chronic mouth pain - it could be the catalyst for you to find help or healing in other ways.
We want to talk about bruxism - which is just the fancy medical term for teeth grinding or jaw clenching. It's quite common and happens unconsciously, so we might overlook its impact on our health. There's sleep bruxism (happens at night) and awake bruxism (during the day). Even nail biting or constantly chewing on something (like ice, pens, gum) can be related to bruxism. If this happens to you, you might experience some of the following:
Headaches close to the temples
Overly sensitive teeth
The bite surfaces of your teeth are too smooth
Tired, sore jaw muscles
A hard time opening your mouth
Popping/clicking in the TMJ
Scrapes along the inside of your cheeks
Indents on your tongue
Restless or disrupted sleep
Even when times aren't tough, some personality types are more affected by this "habit" than others. People tend to clench their jaw when they're nervous or extremely focused on a task (is that why they call it 'grinding'?). Taking care of your mental health can be one of the first steps to treating it. You might choose to incorporate breathwork, guided meditation, self-massage, or a soothing oil to alleviate nervous tension or tendencies.
Wearing an over-the-counter dental guard is an affordable way to test the waters too - to see if you are grinding or clenching in your sleep. Beyond the available drugstore options, there's Cheeky, CustmBite, and Sova. After a few weeks of wearing, check whether your night guard has any holes or excessive wear in them from grinding. Notice if any of the above symptoms have been reduced or relieved as well, and go from there!
Whether you're going thru a lot, are a workaholic, a nervous type, or something else - know that bruxism is totally normal and can be taken cared of. Beyond these options, there are other health conditions or therapies that can be explored with a healthcare provider or dentist.