If we were to ask you if you grind your teeth, you may emphatically – and truthfully – say tell us “No.” However, if we were to look in your mouth, we may discover something different. Teeth grinding is referred to as bruxism. This condition may also describe clenching the jaw. The reason why so many people do this, but do not know it, is because it happens at night while they sleep.
Sometimes, bruxism occurs because the bite is not in proper alignment. Most of the time, though, this problem is a side-effect of stress. The consequences of this habit can be steep, so we like to identify it early and plan ways to resolve the issue, such as a night guard. Ideally, patients who grind or clench will also learn ways to prevent this from becoming the norm. Here are a few ways to do so:
This could be easier said than done, especially around the holidays. To manage stress takes conscious practice. Setting aside time for enjoyable activities or even a bit of solitude, such as a hot bath or a walk in the park, can replenish your peacefulness and keep you from stress-grinding.
Cut the Caffeine
We understand that many of our patients cannot dream of starting the day without a steaming Cup O’ Joe. Instead of cutting caffeine altogether, consider shaving off just one cup a day, and consuming coffee or other caffeinated beverages in the morning only. You may be surprised at how well you sleep if you avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Most people look at alcohol as a sedative, not a stimulant. However, hours after a few drinks, the body actually has a response that is similar to caffeine, which could exacerbate nighttime restlessness and bruxism.
Identify Signs and Hidden Triggers
A clue that you may be relieving stress orally is chewing on objects during the day. This, like grinding and clenching, is usually done subconsciously, but is a form of “training” for nighttime activities that could harm your teeth. Grinding may also be triggered by certain nighttime activities that feel relaxing, but that ultimately stimulate the brain, such as reading a riveting crime novel or playing video games before bed.
The team at Advanced Dental Arts wishes you and your family a very happy holiday season. For assistance getting your smile in order, call (847) 223-5200.