Stress is just a fact of life. Everyone experiences it from time to time. Stress can come from paying bills, getting stuck in traffic, an illness and even from your own family. As a wise person will tell you, what matters is how you deal with stress. If you find yourself grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw in reaction to a stressful moment or an ongoing stressful situation, you could be doing serious damage to your teeth, and giving yourself headaches, and jaw and neck pain.
Grinding or clenching your teeth is a condition known as bruxism, and while you may be aware of it during the day, if it occurs at night, you may have no idea that you are suffering from it. If you find yourself waking up with a headache, or a sore jaw, bruxism may be the cause. Damage to your teeth is another clue.
Your bruxism may be the result of stress, but it can also be caused by teeth that are not properly aligned. Some medical conditions and medications have also been linked to bruxism. If you use alcohol or tobacco, or if you are a heavy coffee drinker, cutting back may help your bruxism. You may need to take steps to reduce the stress in your life, and to protect your teeth, our dentist, Dr. Brett Lent may prescribe a night guard to wear while you sleep. This night guard will prevent your teeth from grinding against one another, and prevent further damage to your teeth an enamel. There are also exercises that you can do to relieve the tension in your jaw. These exercises may have some value if your bruxism is related to stress, but if the problem is due to the alignment of your teeth or a problem such as a temporomandibular joint disorder, the dentist will want to give you a complete examination and use that as the basis for his treatment recommendation.
Bruxism in children is not uncommon, and very often they grown out of it. However, if your child is complaining of headaches or earaches, you notice damage to your child’s teeth, or as if often the case you can hear them grinding their teeth when they sleep, you should schedule them for an appointment at Santa Monica Bay Dental. You may even want to take a child for a visit with the pediatrician, since bruxism can be a reaction to pain or medication, or even a side effect of hyperactivity. And yes, kids do deal with stress, and that may be at the root of your child’s bruxism. So while there is a chance your child will grow out of the problem, there is nothing wrong with visiting the dentist to see if there are things that can be done to address the problem.
If you are noticing the signs of bruxism in Santa Monica, California, in yourself or your child, we would be happy to schedule you for an exam and a consultation. Give us a call today at 310-453-8606, and let us help you give your teeth a break!