Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is no laughing matter. While it’s something most of us do from time to time and doesn’t usually become a health problem, a bad case can ruin a perfectly good smile.
The pressure we put on ourselves even while asleep can be such a pain, ladies. Jaw pain, chipped teeth, smashed molars, earaches, toothaches, headaches, accelerated tooth decay and tongue biting are some of the worst pains severe bruxism can cause.
Are you bruxing your teeth?
Mine started about a year ago. I’d wake up with a sore jaw and had no idea why. My dentist clued me in on my next visit, seeing telltale signs of tooth wear that revealed the culprit: I was grinding my teeth.
“Karen, how’s your stress level?” he asked.
Stress level? Well, I hadn’t won the lottery yet, and we were worried about the recession and El Hub potentially losing his job. “Not awesome,” I said.
According to the American Dental Association, experts aren’t sure what causes bruxism, but stress and anxiety are at the top of their list of suspects, along with allergies, sleep disorders, ear infections, an abnormal bite and crooked or missing teeth.
My dentist had a mouth guard made for me from a custom molding of my teeth, a rather expensive solution that cost a few hundred dollars out of pocket, but I didn’t want to wear my teeth down to stumps so I agreed. I wore it every night to bed, and before long my jaw soreness disappeared.
If you suspect you might be grinding your teeth at night (your SO might even be able to hear it), a visit to the dentist might be in order. If they tell you “You’re bruxing,” ask about less expensive options to custom-fitted nightguards like…
If stress is making you grind
- Avoid or cut back on caffeinated foods and beverages like colas, chocolate and coffee.
- Steer clear of the booze. Grinding seems to worsen with alcohol consumption.
- Watch what you chew. Chewing on pencils, pens, gum or anything that isn’t food gets your jaw muscles more accustomed to clenching and makes you more likely to grind.
- Practice makes perfect. If you notice yourself clenching or grinding during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. It trains your jaw muscles to relax.
- Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,