Consumer Reports

Why Feeling Stressed Could Make You Grind Your Teeth

Many of us are under a lot of stress these days, and dentists see evidence of it in more and more patients

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Clenching and grinding teeth, called bruxism, is on the rise, and as Consumer Reports explains, it can cause big problems if left untreated. 

Are you one of those people who wakes up with a sore jaw in the morning? It could be a sign that you’re grinding or clenching your teeth at night. And these days, you’re not alone. 

According to the American Dental Association, the number of patients reporting these symptoms has increased by a whopping 69% since 2020.

Although bruxism is usually done unconsciously at night, it can occur during the day as well.

According to dentists, the main factors that can increase the risk of developing this disorder are stress, anxiety, and tension.

People with bruxism may wake up with a sore or stiff jaw or neck, a headache, or ringing in the ears. And worse, it can lead to damaged teeth.

To relieve discomfort and prevent further damage, schedule an appointment with your dentist to determine the severity of the disorder and make a plan of action. 

Wearing a mouthguard at night is usually the No. 1 line of defense, according to some dentists. The guard puts space between upper and lower teeth to protect them and allows the jaw muscles to relax. One made by your dentist or an endodontist will be more effective than an over-the-counter one, but also more expensive.

In addition to a mouthguard, many patients find that relaxing activities like yoga and meditation can help ease jaw tension. 

Experts may also advise seeing a physical therapist trained to treat bruxism who can teach you exercises to stretch, strengthen, and relax the muscles in your neck and jaw involved in clenching and grinding. For severe cases, your dentist might even suggest Botox injections.

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