Stress Management to Control Teeth Grinding

Management of your teeth grinding

Our last post explained the basic symptoms and solutions of bruxism, or grinding teeth. In this post, Dr. James Fondriest, a Lake Forest IL dentist specializing in jaw pain, explains how stress contributes to bruxism and outlines steps you can take to control and prevent teeth grinding. Bruxism is a serious problem, triggering immediate pain such as headaches and jaw aches. It can also cause of host of dental health issues. Continual teeth grinding and clinching can wear away tooth enamel, leading to decay, structural damage, and tooth loss. In time, habitual teeth grinders may require extensive restorative work such as root canals, bridges, implants, and even dentures. Teeth grinding also puts enormous stress on the TM joints, and can lead to osteoarthritis, bone loss, and a changed facial structure.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

The predisposition to grind your teeth has a genetic component.  If one of your parents bruxed, that may explain it. While the exact pathways for teeth grinding are unclear, doctors believe that one of the main causes is stress, and according to Medical News Today, almost 70% of those who grind their teeth do so because of underlying tension and anxiety. The consequences of teeth grinding are grave so if you suffer from bruxism, learning to manage stress is a vital part of your oral health. Many people don’t believe that they are stressed but they don’t reflect on their person habits and lifestyle. While Dr. Fondriest will almost certainly prescribe additional treatments such as a mouth guard to prevent teeth grinding, stress management is of fundamental importance.

Identifying Stress as a cause of Teeth Grinding

Nervous habits caused from being stressed can also be hard on your teeth. The first step in controlling stress is identifying the sources of anxiety in your life. Take a close look at the different areas of your life – work, family, personal. Notice if there are areas where stress seems continually present. Identify any places in your life where you can eliminate stress. For example, do you constantly take on extra projects at work? Do you put too much pressure on yourself to keep the “perfect” house or be the “perfect” parent? Is there a friend who constantly turns to you at the first sign of trouble? It is important to find areas in your life where you can say no. After all, the chances are that you have higher expectations for yourself than anyone else.

Exercise for Stress Management

Regular exercise is one of the most reliable ways to reduce stress and relieve tension. Be sure to get 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week. While this may seem like yet another way to add stress to your already busy life, if you work these periods into your schedule, you will probably find that you feel better almost immediately. You may even notice a significant decrease in your teeth grinding. Remember, exercise does not have to be a burden. Choose something you truly enjoy to experience the greatest benefits. Go for a walk in the park, take a bike ride, or sign up for a yoga class.

Pamper Yourself

One of the best ways to manage stress and anxiety is to indulge in the treats and activities you love. Making time for yourself and allowing yourself to put daily stress on the back burner, even if it is only for half an hour, can dramatically decrease the tension in your life. At least once a week, consider doing one of these things:

  • Watching a funny movie
  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Going for a round of golf
  • Scheduling lunch with friends
  • Going on a date with your spouse

Of course, if you are a constant teeth grinder, stress is most likely a serious problem in your life, and you should not try to control it in your own. You may want to consider visiting a counselor, and you should surround yourself with family and friends whom you trust. In addition to protecting your teeth from tooth grinding with a mouth guard, Dr. Fondriest can replace the lost tooth enamel on worn teeth from bruxism. He also can make further recommendations for stress management. He can also refer you to other medical professionals who can help you to control your anxiety and put an end to your teeth grinding and clenching.

Schedule Your Appointment with Dr. Fondriest

To learn more about bruxism and how you can control stress and tooth grinding, contact Dr. James Fondriest. He has had extensive training in TMJ therapy at the L.D. Pankey Institute where he now serves as a faculty member. To schedule a consultation to discuss your tooth grinding and related jaw pain, call Dr. James Fondriest, DDS, FACD,FICD  at Lake Forest Dental Arts near Chicago, at (847) 234-0517.