Stop the Grind: A Holistic Dentist Can Help Those with Sleep Bruxism
A demanding job, moving to another state, a tiff with your spouse—there is no shortage of reasons for stress. Unfortunately, it’s not just your emotional state that suffers when you’re stressed; your body does, too.
Indeed, stress can affect your body in surprising ways, causing problems such as insomnia, hair loss, and even skin rash. Dentists also believe that stress causes or contributes to tooth grinding. As a New York Times article noted in 2009—the height of the economic collapse—many dentists noticed an increase in patients seeking treatment for grinding teeth in their sleep.
More Common Than You Think
According to statistics, tooth grinding (called bruxism in the medical field) affects about 7-8% of the population, roughly 1 in 10 individuals. While certainly common, the cause of tooth grinding is not yet well established, though there is growing evidence suggesting that genetic factors and stress/anxiety contribute to it. What is known, however, is that sleep bruxism is “centrally regulated,” which means that the behavior originates from the central nervous system.
Are You One of Them?
Tooth grinding is a tricky problem because you’re never awake when it’s happening, which means you can’t police this behavior. That said, there are a couple of telltale signs that can help you determine if you’re suffering from sleep bruxism.
First, check your family history. As previously mentioned, tooth grinding can be inherited, so be sure to ask your immediate family and close relatives if they suffer from this affliction. The next thing to check is the state of your teeth. Do your teeth all look the same length? If so, you may be unconsciously grinding them in your sleep, thus causing this unusual “flatness” in their appearance.
Are your jaw and head painful after waking up? When you grind your teeth at night, your jaw and facial muscles work overnight, lending to tenderness in these areas.
What to Do About It
Night guards, worn over the teeth at night, are an effective way to address sleep bruxism. However, those made of soft plastic can actually encourage tooth grinding rather than curb it. Regardless, be sure to visit a holistic dentist in San Diego who can fabricate customized night guards of high-quality, non-toxic materials, suited to the unique shape of your mouth.
With the help of holistic dentistry in San Diego, you can stop sleep bruxism and improve your oral health.
How Do I Know If I Grind My Teeth at Night?, askthedentist.com
25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health, health.com