If there’s one thing we can all relate to, it’s stress. More recently, we’ve all experienced the pressure of the pandemic, and in response, we’ve had to re-learn coping mechanisms and prioritise de-stressor activities like self-care. Lockdowns and stay at home orders have enveloped us in the stress and anxiety of the pandemic and led to a rise in teeth grinding and clenching.
At Beaches Dental Mona Vale, we understand how stress can affect your physical health, so here are some tips to minimise the effects of teeth grinding so you can maintain that happy and healthy smile.

Pandemic Stress and Teeth Grinding

Bruxism is the clinical term for teeth grinding which happens unconsciously as a result of stress and anxiety. The most frequent time that teeth grinding occurs is while you sleep. While Teeth Grinding has negative effects on your teeth, it shouldn’t cause you added stress to know you suffer from it. Identifying the cause of your teeth grinding, such as pandemic stress, is the first step to putting an end to this unconscious habit.

Due to increased stress as a result of the pandemic, teeth grinding has significantly increased across the globe. While teeth grinding is generally an unconscious habit, it can lead to jaw pain and tooth wear which can affect your quality of life. Teeth Grinding hasn’t been the only dental-related issue that’s become more prevalent since the pandemic. It has been reported that there’s been a dramatic increase in cracked teeth, with Oral Surgeons backlogged with cases of fractured teeth.

Here’s What You Can Do to Stop Teeth Grinding

The most common way to address your teeth grinding is to wear a night guard/splint, which your dentist will custom-make to fit your mouth. At night you’ll sleep with the splint which will ensure that when grinding occurs, your teeth are not pressed against each other but against the guard. This will spare your enamel from wearing down during the night.

You can also introduce lifestyle changes to support relaxation and lower your stress  levels. With stress-induced teeth grinding, it’s imperative you understand how to better manage the root cause in the long run. Some ways to reduce stress include:

  • Stress counseling/therapy will provide you with a personalised mental health tool kit for your stress.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, and stress management therapy can also assist in stopping this unconscious behaviour.
  • Breathing exercises to relieve stress.
  • Adjusting your diet is key to managing high stress, so try to avoid foods that keep you awake, such as caffeine.
  • Cutting back on consumption or avoiding alcohol will also assist in reducing grinding as alcohol consumption may increase your risk of teeth grinding

If you’re looking for more ways to manage stress, ask your doctor or dentist for some additional techniques and recommendations.

If your teeth grinding has severely affected some of your teeth, then visiting your dentist to get those teeth fixed will improve your overall oral health. Repairing pre-existing tooth damage will help with the ongoing management of teeth grinding.

Summary

Pandemic stress has become a prevalent part of our day to day lives, however this stress can have a dramatic impact on your physical health and wellbeing. Whether it’s during the day or while you sleep, dentists have found that more patients have been presenting with dental concerns due to the effects of teeth grinding and clenching.

The good news is that teeth grinding can be fixed, and many individuals suffering from bruxism have benefited from a variety of solutions. Once you notice you grind your teeth, the best thing to do is visit your dentist, who will provide you with one-on-one support for your needs as well as provide you with an action plan on how to combat the repercussions of this behaviour. You may be fitted with a night guard/splint  that will protect your teeth from grinding as you sleep. Identifying the reasons why you are feeling stressed and anxious is also key to curbing teeth grinding. From breathing exercises to therapy, there are many ways to learn how to cope with stress.

If you’re interested in learning more about night guards and teeth grinding, head over to Beaches Dental Mona Vale.