Stress comes and goes with everyday life, and it can be difficult to know when stress is physically harming you. Stress affects mood, behavior, overall health and even your way of thinking. One result of stress is teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, mostly occurs unconsciously while you’re awake or while sleeping. Up to one-third of adults grind their teeth during the day and more than 1 in 10 at night.
These numbers have increased since the start of the pandemic. Pandemic-related anxiety has led to an increase in tooth fractures due to teeth grinding. Dentist Laura Philip says she’s seen more tooth fractures in six weeks than in the previous six years.
Identifying the signs of grinding becomes essential not only for teeth health but also a way for you to know when your stress is causing issues.
How do you know when you’re grinding your teeth?
Identifying teeth grinding yourself is difficult to do. After all, if this is happening unconsciously, how can you tell? A common response dentists hear from their patients is, “I never grind my teeth.” But dentists can see a different story. Here are some symptoms to identify yourself:
- Sleep issues
- Sore jaw
- Chipped teeth
- Abnormal bite
If you do find yourself with these symptoms, visiting a dental professional will help clarify your issue. Dentists check your teeth for cracks, chips, loose teeth and excessive wear.
What are the effects of teeth grinding?
Catching teeth grinding early is essential to preventing further teeth complications. As grinding continues, teeth begin to wear away. Your once enamel-protected tooth becomes worn down, and dental procedures will be needed to protect it from disease. These include bridges, crowns and root canals. If the grinding becomes so severe, tooth loss could be a result. You’ll then need implants or partial dentures.
Other potential problems occur with the jaw and muscles in your face. Temporomandibular (TMD) is a disorder that causes a clicking or popping sound when the mouth opens and closes. Difficulty in chewing or an uncomfortable bite ensues.
What you can do to prevent teeth grinding
If you find yourself grinding your teeth, the good news is you can prevent it. Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Manage your stress. It’s easy to forget about stress because when you’re stressed, it’s difficult to slow down. Set scheduled breaks throughout the day to remind yourself to relax. Take some deep breaths and grab a drink of water. Eating healthy and exercise helps regulate your stress as well. Even try mindfulness while brushing your teeth.
- Work on better posture when sitting. When you lean forward while sitting with bad posture regularly, this puts excessive strain on muscles and joints in the head, neck, shoulders and jaw. Posture exercises will help your body loosen up and thus help lower the risk of teeth grinding. Even taking a break to stand and “wiggling” your body to loosen up can help.
- Purchase a mouthguard to protect your teeth. Mouthguards are a tool in the toolbox to combat teeth grinding, but it won’t solve the issue. Your teeth are still grinding away. That said, mouthguards do help slow the wear and tear. There are different varieties available including over-the-counter mouthguards. But some over-the-counter mouthguards can make underlying conditions worse. It’s best to visit a dentist that can diagnose the issue and provide a custom-made mouthguard that fits your teeth.
Dental insurance gets you into the dentist
Stress or no stress, teeth grinding can happen to anyone. And as noted, you may not know it’s occurring. Dentists help you identify signs of teeth grinding and provide you with solutions to keep your teeth healthy—and dental insurance gets you into the dentist.
Dental insurance actively promotes preventive care with cleanings and exams typically covered 100% (depending on your plan) multiple times per year. This ensures your teeth stay strong. If you are in need of a dental procedure due to teeth grinding, dental insurance helps cover your out-of-pocket costs.
If you’re looking for the right dental insurance plan, the Direct Benefits Marketplace carries a variety of brands to give you more choice. Compare the best plans side-by-side and don’t be afraid to give us a call or use our chat feature on the website. We have experts standing by that love talking dental insurance and finding dental solutions for you.