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Tracking Down the Stress That’s Causing Your Bruxism

Woman with a bad tooth ache from grinding them

Many Americans report that they are stressed on a daily basis. And these days, many more are reporting stress than in years past. And one of the most common symptoms of stress is bruxism. In fact, most cases of bruxism–perhaps 70%–are related to stress.

Bruxism is a major threat to the health of your joints, bones, and teeth. If left untreated bruxism can lead to the development of TMJ, and it may cause significant damage to your teeth, requiring restorative dentistry.

Since stress is a major cause of bruxism, identifying the source of your stress can help you head off your bruxism and reduce your related risks. Here are some types of stress that are commonly associated with bruxism.

Workplace and Money Stress

More than perhaps any other country, people in the US define themselves by the work that they do. When work is going well, people feel comfortable. When work is going poorly, people feel high levels of stress.

People may clench their teeth all day at work, but they usually can’t leave their stress at work. Instead, that workplace stress often follows them home.

Stress about the budget is also very common, and it not only stresses individuals, it can lead to conflict between individuals, which leads to relationship stress.

People with high levels of workplace and money stress can experience both waking and sleep bruxism.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Many people imagine that veterans are the only ones who experience PTSD, but that’s not true. Although PTSD is common among veterans, any significantly traumatic event–or series of events–can lead to PTSD. This includes physical or emotional abuse, violence, car accidents, and other causes.

People with PTSD have ongoing stress that can lead to the development of bruxism.

Family Stress

Although many times family stress is related to budget problems, more people are reporting their families as being a source of their stress. This may be related to conflicts around snoring, which deprives people of sleep and makes them more likely to have disputes. Marital tensions, caring for sick or elderly loved ones, and child behavioral problems are all common sources of family stress.

When people are stressed at work and stressed at home, they experience a higher risk of bruxism because they can’t enjoy a break from their stress.

Social Stress

Being around other people can relieve your stress. Hanging around with friends can help you blow off steam for many people, but for others, social situations tend to be stressful.

And then there are bad social situations that can be inherently stressful. In particular, recent research has shown that bruxism is a common symptom of bullying among teens. Teens who are bullied are more than 6 times as likely to have bruxism. And if you think that bullying is only a problem in the schoolyard, think again. Many people experience bullying in the workplace.

Treating Stress-Related Bruxism

Once you’ve identified the cause of your stress, you can start trying to combat it. But stress relief can take time, and bruxism threatens your teeth now. Although you should work on stopping your stress, you should take steps to protect your teeth today. We can help you protect your teeth with a night guard, which will reduce or eliminate damage right away.

Then once you have gotten your stress under control, we look at repairing damage done by your teeth clenching and grinding. Reconstructive dentistry procedures like porcelain veneers and dental crowns can repair teeth that are worn, chipped, or cracked. Sometimes teeth cannot be saved with reconstructive dentistry and we have to look to replace lost teeth with procedures like dental implants.

And sometimes bruxism is not the cause of your stress. If you do not have significant stress in your life or if controlling your stress doesn’t help your bruxism, we can help you track down the true cause of your teeth clenching and grinding.

Are you looking for a dentist in St. Louis or Clayton, MO who can help you manage your bruxism, please call (314) 375-5353 or (314) 678-7876 today for an appointment with neuromuscular dentist Dr. Chris Hill at CitySmiles.