I grind my teeth a lot. I especially grind my teeth while sitting in traffic because of six inches of snow or because I am waiting for the plow to pass. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, but driving winter conditions can be stress-inducing.
Stress is just one of the many reasons people clench or grind their teeth. And most of us are unaware we are doing it. This condition, called bruxism, can destroy your teeth. Clenching occurs when you press your upper and lower teeth tightly together. Grinding happens when you rub your teeth back and forth against each other. Although the cause isn’t fully understood, bruxism is often due to stress.
Over time it can cause dental problems like:
Problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint connects your lower jaw to your skull. TMJ problems can lead to symptoms such as jaw pain, earache, headache, and clicking or popping noises when you open or close your mouth.
Worn down and broken teeth. Grinding can also cause teeth to become painful and loose.
Since bruxism can damage teeth and cause jaw, head, and ear pain, it’s important to try to kick the habit. So, here are some things ideas to help you relax and prevent tooth-grinding moments:
- Reduce stress. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and spending time with people you enjoy can all help. And if you must drive in wintery and stressful conditions, do not follow my steps! Try doing some breathing exercises.
- Relax your face and jaw muscles. Practicing this throughout the day can help you create a habit of relaxing instead of tightening these muscles.
- Tell your dentist if you clench or grind your teeth. Your dentist may suggest a type of mouth guard called a splint, a bite guard, or a night guard. There are several different types that work in different ways. Your dentist can design one that will work best for you.
What is especially stress for you right now and causing you to grind your teeth? Leave a comment below.