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Dental De-stress: The truth about teeth grinding

Oct 15, 2012 06:14PM ● By Anonymous

Although bruxism is most often noted at night, it can occur during the day, as well, and may be attributed to a number of causes. The grinding and clenching may be an unconscious response to stress or anxiety, whether at work or in the home. It may be caused by certain drugs, both prescription and elicit… including anti-depressants and other mood-altering substances. Grinding may be the body’s natural response to an incongruous bite or other dental discrepancy. It may also be an inexhaustible impulse of the central nervous system, one that can never be entirely eliminated.

“Some people may have just one cause, some may have a couple of causes,” says an area dentist. “It depends on the person, and there is no way to tell until the patient is evaluated.”

Such evaluations may determine not only the cause, but also the severity of the behavior, and from there, a dentist can recommend the next step. Sporadic grinders may eventually kick the habit by reducing consumption of caffeine and alcohol, keeping writing utensils and fingernails well away from the mouth to help prevent inadvertent clenching and chewing, and learning to relax jaw muscles both during the day and before bed. Frequent grinders, though, may want to consider professional treatment, either to reduce stress on the mind or stress on the mouth. Many who seek psychological counseling or orthodonture ultimately nix their vice.

But there is another, somewhat cheaper solution. “For people who don’t want that kind of treatment, we recommend wearing an appliance to act as a buffer to protect everything from the grinding,” says our dental expert. “Custommade appliances are recommended, because over-the-counter appliances never fi t well and tend to be more rubbery, which can potentially exacerbate the issue.”

So if your child or loved one is a constant grinder, don’t bite your tongue. Speaking up will save not only your ears, but their smiles, too.

Thanks to Dr. Vernon Sheen for his help with this story.