Stress & Grinding Teeth: Be on Guard

grinding-teeth-bruxismThere’s no way around it – people of all ages have felt stressed at some point this year. Adults and children alike feel it in many ways, from sleepless nights to family feuds. We see a big impact here in the form of patients who are grinding teeth (also referred to as bruxism), but that’s not the only impact stress has on teeth. Here are more symptoms to keep an eye on and some things you can do to reduce the impact on your family’s teeth.

Signs You or Your Kids Might Be Grinding Teeth

Some signs are easy to spot, others are a little less obvious. One thing about stress before we talk about your teeth: it is a real grind, both literally and figuratively.

Because it can affect so many elements of your health, we always advise overall stress reduction, not just focusing on the symptoms. Whether you’re aware of it or not, stress creates problems, including problems with your teeth. The two main ways stress affects your teeth are chemically and physically.

Physical Effects of Stress: Grinding Teeth

The primary physical effect of stress that’s related to dental care is grinding teeth. That breaks your enamel down and can even lead to broken teeth.

Unless you have a light sleeper in the vicinity, you may not even know you’re grinding your teeth until you realize you’re waking up with sore and sensitive teeth. Some signs you and/or your kids might be grinding:

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Sore jaw
  • Locked jaw (difficulty opening)
  • Cracked or uneven teeth
  • Sensitive teeth with pressure

How to Prevent Damage from Grinding Teeth

grinding-teeth-bruxism-guardThe best way to prevent damage from grinding teeth (other than overall stress reduction) is a night guard, also referred to as a bite guard or a mouth guard. The guard serves as a barrier to protect your teeth from pressure and abrasion from grinding, saving your enamel and helping relax the muscles in your jaw. 

These are similar to the mouth guards used in some sports, so your kids might already be familiar with them. They can help children and adults reduce the effects of stress-related grinding on teeth. 

If you do need a night guard, you’ll need to get it fit properly by your dentist to ensure that it does its job and doesn’t cause other problems. like shifting alignment. One caution – your kids facial structure is changing slightly as they grow, so you may need to get a new mold more often for them than for yourself.

Chemical Effects of Stress

From a chemical perspective, watch for acid reflux that can often result from stress. If anyone in your family suffers from acid reflux, visit your primary care physician to get it treated. Acid makes teeth look glossy with wear over time.

It can also cause chemical erosion resulting in pitting in the teeth.

Finally, stress can impact eating habits like binge eating sweets and sugary beverages. As we all know, that impacts the teeth and can cause cavities. 

Don’t Let Grinding Teeth Get You Down

If you’re worried, please make an appointment and come on in, or ask about it at your next regularly scheduled visit. To schedule an appointment, fill out this form, or call our office at (708) 448-­7588


Stress & Grinding Teeth: Be on Guard was last modified: July 28th, 2020 by Palos Heights Family Dental