We all deal with stress. The causes may vary, but perception is reality and we will always deal with some form of stress throughout our lives. So we need to find healthy ways to deal with or manage our stressors. If not, it could lead to health problems like irritable bowel syndrome, excessive sweating, hair loss, insomnia, fatigue, and teeth grinding.
Research has shown a strong relationship between stress and teeth grinding (bruxism). This doesn’t mean that everyone will grind their teeth when they become more stressed, but there is an increased risk. If the bruxism is not controlled or the teeth are not protected, it can lead to headaches, jaw pain, and fractured teeth. Since we cannot control the stress in your life, our goal is to protect the teeth. The best solution is a custom made night guard.
There are a variety of ways to make a night guard. It can be made to fit over the top teeth or the bottom teeth. It can cover all of the teeth or only a few. We recommend discussing the pros and cons of each appliance with your dentist to determine which one is best for your situation and comfort level. However, we strongly discourage the use of over the counter night guards. While they may provide a barrier between the teeth, they are more likely to cause joint problems than a custom made guard.
A final theory on stress, health, and grinding your teeth: new studies indicate a relationship with bruxism and sleep apnea. The theory is people grind their teeth when they sleep because they have trouble breathing. If you have sleep apnea, then grind your teeth, then wake up tired with a headache, the chances of you being stressed is increased. If you have any concerns you may be snoring or sleep apnea, we recommend getting a sleep study to ensure you are being treated properly.
For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.
Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS