No matter how charmed, no life is completely free of stress. And that stress can contribute to a myriad of health problems, including heart disease, digestive problems, immune system disorders and even dental problems if you happen to be “grinder.” A top cosmetic dentist, Jacksonville’s Dr. Eric Burgess, offers tips for busting your bruxing habit.
Known by dentists as bruxism, teeth grinding is just what it sounds like – constant pressure or clenching of the teeth. Often, you people don’t even realize they’re doing it. In fact, many grinders grind when they’re sleeping – the day’s stress seeping into their dreams, perhaps? Grinding also is an involuntary reaction when you’re angry, frustrated or afraid.
While the causes may be situational, the effects, unfortunately, are very visual. Teeth grinding can wear down your teeth, causing them to chip, break or come so loose they have to be pulled. Not pretty. Plus there are the recurring headaches or earaches, intensified sensitivity in the teeth, sore jaw muscles or TMD. So how do you stop doing something you typically don’t realize you’re doing? Here are Dr. Burgess’ tips:
- Nix the stress: While we’ll likely never banish stress and tension from our lives altogether, we can learn to minimize it. Exercise, relaxation techniques, time management, meditation, avoiding known stress triggers and learning to step away from stressful situations long enough to take a few deep breaths and collect your thoughts all can help reduce stress.
- Sleep soundly: When you’re headed to bed, massage your jaw, light some aromatherapy candles and place a warm washcloth over your jaw joints to help relax your muscles and induce deep, restorative rest. Sleeping on your back or using a contoured pillow will help reduce the amount of pressure placed on your jaw joints.
- Watch what you eat and drink: Limit caffeine, alcohol and stimulant or depressant medications or substances that can interfere with a good night’s sleep. Also avoid chewing hard candies and objects (ever know someone with a cup full of chewed up ink pens on their desk?) and gum. All that constant chewing can be habit forming. Check medication labels for bruxism among the potential side effects. And make sure your diet is rich in calcium and panothenic acid.
- See your dentist: Your dentist can check the alignment of your teeth and make sure your dental crowns, bridges, etc. are fitted properly and not placing undue stress on your jawbone. If teeth grinding is a significant problem, your dentist may also recommend a custom-made mouthguard or night guard. And he can help repair an already damaged smile with crowns, implants or veneers.
If you need help getting your teeth grinding under control, or if you need cosmetic dentistry repair on teeth already damaged by grinding, contact the Burgess Center for Cosmetic Dentistry at 904-273-3001.