Teeth grinding: what is bruxism?

Stress is a normal and natural reaction in life. It’s easy to become stressed by work, school, or other commitments. However, long-term stress can have negative effects on our physical and mental health. We want to inform you about a common stress-related oral health issue that can sometimes be treated with orthodontics: bruxism.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition in which a person excessively grinds or clenches their teeth, often unconsciously. Grinding can happen during the day or at night. Bruxism is common in young children, but the condition is often temporary. Every individual may occasionally grind or clench their teeth, but persistent bruxism is damaging.

Teeth and bite misalignment can increase the likelihood of bruxism. Over time, grinding can cause or worsen TMD, a dysfunction of the jaw joint that leads to pain, jaw locking, and headaches. Excessive grinding or clenching can lead to further misalignment, worn enamel, loose or fractured teeth, and painful migraines. If you suspect you may be grinding or clenching during the day or night, cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and chewing gum. Seek advice from a dentist or orthodontist, they should be able to identify signs of bruxism in your mouth.

How can orthodontics help?

With misaligned teeth and a bad bite, bruxism is more likely and can be more damaging to your smile. By correcting your bite and straightening your teeth, patients may be less likely to suffer from bruxism altogether or may have a less severe case.

For people who grind at night, night guards can prevent serious damage to teeth. Anyone can purchase a general night guard at a drugstore, but for people undergoing orthodontic treatment, an orthodontist can fit a custom-made guard to their smile to protect their teeth and appliances.

These steps can all make a difference in your quality of life. But, if your bruxism persists, the solution may be addressing underlying stress.

Tips to help you destress

Reducing stress reduces teeth grinding and improves your overall mental and physical health. Try integrating the following tips.

  • Exercise: Staying active releases endorphins that boost your mood and fight off stress.
    Reflect on your progress: At the end of every day, think about what you’ve accomplished (not what you didn’t get around to!).
  • Meditate or listen to your favorite song: Apps and YouTube videos for guided meditation can help you learn to block out negativity. If you have trouble with staying silent, turn up your favorite tune and dance the stress away.
  • Try focusing on gratitude: Focusing on good experiences, people, and opportunities helps take your mind away from stressful subjects.
  • Eat healthily and get to bed on time: A healthy diet and consistent, adequate sleep help reduce the effects of stress. Stress can weaken your immune system, but healthy habits can build it back up.

Book your free consultation appointment

Put your health first! Schedule your free first consultation. Here at Petty & Bielik Orthodontics, we’ll support you through your smile journey and keep the process stress-free!