Teeth grinding can occur while you sleep, often during stressful times in your life, which means you may not realize just how much you’re damaging your enamel. People may grind their teeth plenty during daylight hours too, and even though the pain of teeth grinding can make you very aware of your problem, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to stop this habit on your own. Finding the source of this act is one way to begin treating it, and new research has discovered one source of bruxism: social anxiety.
A study by Tel Aviv University published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation found that people who experience anxiety in social situations have a higher risk of bruxism. It follows then that social anxiety could translate to dental anxiety, which means the original problem of teeth grinding – not to mention its side effects – could go unaddressed because a person will be too worried about going to the dentist to do something about their ongoing problem. Catch-22, vicious cycle, however you want to categorize it, refusing to take care of oral health issues is not a good thing.
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Treating Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding and clenching are two different oral health problems, but they’re both easily treatable. Worn at night while sleeping, an NTI tension suppression system – which is small and not cumbersome, though its name might imply otherwise – can reduce the force of any clenching which minimizes or eliminates neck and jaw pain and headaches.
A mouthguard is another option to reduce teeth grinding, and the negative side effects that come with it, mainly the destruction of your teeth. A custom nightguard will help reduce or stop any facial or joint pain and discomfort. Be aware that while over-the-counter nightguards are certainly available, they can do more harm than good and exacerbate existing pain or create new problems.
Referring back to the recent study concerning the connection between teeth grinding and anxiety, you will have even more beneficial long-term results by identifying the source of the grinding or clenching and treating it as well, whether it’s social anxiety or another type of stress. A psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or medical doctor is necessary to treat anxiety, a disorder that affects about one in six American adults.
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Other Side Effects of Teeth Grinding or Clenching
It’s important to understand that tooth grinding, while a nuisance all on its own, can lead to plenty of oral health problems beyond jaw pain including tooth wear and cracked or broken teeth. Researchers claim that anxiety can even lead to tooth loss. Wait too long to treat your teeth grinding or clenching issue and you’ll end up with more dental problems to manage.
Broken or worn down teeth will require restorative dentistry or cosmetic dentistry repairs, such as tooth-colored fillings, porcelain veneers, dental crowns and bridges, and, in some of the more damaging cases, dental implants. But in the hands of an experienced dentist, repairs such as these can be completed in just a few visits. After consultation with your dentist, you may also receive the recommendation that orthodontia could help repair jaw issues, in which case Invisalign might be a possibility.
Contact Dr. Ken Cirka at Philadelphia Dentistry to discussion any painful oral health issues you may be experiencing.