Have you ever been watching a dramatic movie or television show and noticed the subtle movement of a character’s clenched jaw? This activity is not reserved for riveting entertainment, but is actually quite common. Millions of people clench their jaw or grind their teeth, or both. And while this may seem an innocent habit, it can cause far more problems than you may think. Furthermore, because the condition, referred to as bruxism, often goes on while you are sleeping, you may not even know the damage your teeth and jaw are subjected to.
Bruxism can and should be stopped; but how? To move a step closer to optimal function, you must first uncover the source of your grinding.
- Who doesn’t feel slightly stressed at least every now and then? According to studies, we are far more stressed today than previous generations. This translates into greater numbers of people clenching and grinding in response to mental fatigue.
- Sleep disorders. Insomnia, sleep apnea, and other conditions that cause restlessness rather than rest can be an underlying source of bruxism.
- Interestingly, it is anti-depressant medications that have been associated with an increase in grinding and clenching during sleep.
- Poor bite. Our teeth are meant to fit together when we chew and bite. The jaw knows this, and will accommodate even if teeth are not properly aligned. As a result of trying to get two teeth to meet, the jaw becomes unduly stressed and fatigued.
Putting an End to the Daily Grind
Knowing why you clench and grind, you become empowered to control the situation:
- Stress management is a must for most people who suffer from bruxism, as this condition is often a byproduct of chronic mental tension. Find and implement techniques that work for you. This may include meditation, yoga, or just sitting beneath the stars before bedtime. If necessary, talk to a therapist to discover and work through your stresses.
- Pamper your jaw with massage and warm compresses. Some people even find that they can relieve muscle tension in the jaw by rubbing on a few drops of peppermint essential oil.
- Talk with your dentist. A thorough consultation and examination can reveal the cause of grinding and also keep you from entering into the world of TMJ disorder, if detected and treated early enough.
Clenching and grinding can do a number on your smile. Get the care you need to minimize the effects of bruxism with our friendly dental team.