According to the American Dental Association, 70% of dentists reported an increasing number of patients grinding or clenching their teeth due to pandemic stress.
If you notice that your teeth grinding becomes more frequent, you might be starting to develop a dental condition called bruxism. If you want to learn how to stop grinding your teeth, here are some tips to prevent your oral health from getting worse.
How the COVID-19 makes you more prone to teeth grinding
The ongoing pandemic took a toll on our lives and continues to affect us in several ways up to this day. As we navigate our way to the new normal, it’s easy to fall into stress and anxiety. Our body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones and fueling our adrenaline response.
With the continuous release of stress hormones, your jaw muscles become tense and make you more prone to bruxism. If you often clench or grind your teeth, it can trigger other conditions like chronic headaches, sore jaw, and tense facial muscles.
If left untreated, bruxism or teeth grinding can lead to conditions like temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, bite issues, and worn-down teeth.
How to stop grinding your teeth and protect your oral health
During these difficult times, it’s crucial to keep your oral health in good shape. Maintaining a healthy mouth and preventing infection helps your immune system focus on protecting you against diseases.
Here are some helpful tips on how you can stop grinding your teeth.
- Massage your temples and jaws: Massage your jaws and temples in a circular motion to alleviate jaw pain and help your jaw muscles relax. The circular motion helps relieve the tension in the jaw and decompresses the tight facial muscles.
- Do some relaxing exercises: Breathing exercises, yoga, or pilates can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the part of our body that disrupts adrenaline production and relaxes our muscles naturally.
- Avoid anxiety-inducing drinks before bed: Beverages with caffeine trigger your fight or flight response. You may become more awake or get a sudden rush of energy, but it can intensify your anxiety and keep your muscles tense, resulting in teeth grinding.
- Relax your muscles in a hot bath: A hot bath before bed can help relieve fatigue and stress after a whole day’s work. Hot water can relieve muscle tension by expanding the blood vessels and increase the blood flow in your sore jaw muscles.
- Choose a warm cup of tea over coffee: Tea contains EGCG and L-theanine that can make you feel calmer and reduce your chances of grinding your teeth at night. It is also rich in essential nutrients that can enhance your focus and flush out toxins in your body.
- Practice mindfulness: Managing stress is one of the best things you can give to your body. Your mind triggers the release of stress hormones and their damaging effects on your body. By practicing mindfulness, you allow yourself to be more focused and manage your emotions in non-damaging ways.
- Stop chewing your pen: The constant chewing motion stimulates your muscle memory and trains your muscles to clench. Biting your pens or pencils are also teeth-damaging habits that can chip your tooth enamel over time.
- Steer away from chewy candies and foods: You increase your chances of developing bruxism when you eat chewy candies or gums. The constant overuse of your jaw muscles can trigger your teeth-grinding behavior until it becomes a damaging habit.
- Manage your stress by talking to your friends and family: One of the non-damaging ways of relieving stress is to share your concerns with your trusted loved ones. Who knows, you might also receive a piece of good advice to solve your problems.
- Use a night guard: If you’ve already exhausted all the stress-busting exercises and you still grind your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend a night guard. A night guard is a dental appliance that will help protect your teeth from the damaging effects of bruxism.
Occasional teeth grinding is a natural response when you are angry or tense. However, if it gets frequent or happens every night while you sleep, you can experience any of the following complications:
- Frequent headaches
- Pain in the ear area
- Worn-down teeth
- Damaged fillings, crowns, or bridges
- Painful or loose teeth
- Cracked or chipped teeth
Nobody knows when this pandemic ends. As we hope for better days, don’t let the pandemic stress take its toll on your oral health. Let our dental experts help you protect your teeth and educate you on how to stop grinding your teeth.
Fine Arts Dentistry is one of the leading providers of night guards in Matthews. Our dental team also provides dental restorations for worn-down and chipped teeth due to bruxism. Schedule your appointment now to relieve bruxism-related headaches and help your partner sleep peacefully at night.