We’re all under an immense amount of stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we can also experience everyday stressors like work, a flat car tire or an unexpected dental bill. These stressors can all contribute to making you grind your teeth. 

There continues to be an increase in tooth fractures throughout the pandemic, which means it is time for you to come to the dentist for further diagnosis and treatment planning. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, often occurs while you are sleeping, so most people don’t even know they grind their teeth unless a dentist or their bed partner tells them. 

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a common, involuntary condition that most often occurs while sleeping. It can affect men, women and children. Since most people grind their teeth at night, many suffer from bruxism without even being aware of their condition. If bruxism is left untreated, it can lead to a number of complications, with the most obvious being dental damage.

People who grind and clench their teeth unintentionally bite down too hard at inappropriate times, such as in their sleep. In addition to grinding their teeth, bruxers might also bite their fingernails, pencils and chew the inside of their cheek. Many people are not diagnosed with bruxism until damage has already appeared.

Night guards can help

Once you have been evaluated by a dental professional, it is important to take action. Unfortunately, teeth do not rebuild themselves if damaged. It can become extremely expensive to repair damaged teeth with crowns and implants. 

One common solution is a night guard. These retainer-like devices keep the top jaw from touching the bottom jaw. This not only protects the teeth from grinding, it prevents the jaw from clenching and developing TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorder–a jaw disorder that causes jaw pain and headaches. 

There are also do-it-yourself night guards that come in the mail! For those who are unable to afford a dentist visit or who are high-risk for COVID-19, this is a very good alternative. This kit allows you to make your own impressions, creating a custom guard for your teeth–saving you time and money. But make sure you schedule an appointment with us when time allows, so we can get you a custom-made appliance. Those work the best.

It’s time to manage stress

There are certain personality types that can trigger bruxism, such as those with nervous tension and those who have a hard time managing stress. Anger, pain and frustration can also cause people to start showing the beginning signs of bruxism without them even knowing it. Those who are aggressive, competitive and in a rush may also be at a greater risk.

While there is no cure, it can be managed through proper treatment and by combating stress. If signs of bruxism are detected, therapy might be recommended. This therapy will help to change your behavior by learning how to rest your tongue, teeth and lips properly. An oral appliance can also be made and worn to help absorb the force of biting and to prevent further damage to your teeth while sleeping.

If you suspect dental damage caused by teeth grinding or if you wake up in the mornings with unexplained facial, jaw and head pain, it is important to visit Dr. Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for further diagnosis and treatment planning.