The Covid Clench & Grind: It's not the latest TikTok dance!
The Covid Clench & Grind
It sounds like the latest TikTok dance, but it’s actually one of your body’s responses to stress.
Over the past year at Start Smiling Dental we have seen a significant increase in our patients having issues from clenching & grinding their teeth. A day doesn’t go by where we don’t see patients who are having pain in their jaws, cracked teeth, and other signs of Bruxism.
Bruxism is the clenching and grinding of your teeth that can cause:
• Headaches and migraines
• Jaw/facial pain & stiffness
• Tooth sensitivity
• Broken fillings, crowns, and chipped teeth
• Inflamed and receding gums.
If your jaw joint and muscles are affected, bruxism can also lead to Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). The two share similar symptoms and may lead to problems such as difficulty chewing or your jaw locking.
Most of us clench or grind our teeth to some extent.
• Some people grind their teeth during the day when concentrating while doing work on the computer, or driving in traffic or exercising.
• Others may grind their teeth while sleeping, which can result in disrupted sleep for not just you, but your partner. Your personality type may predispose you to a higher risk, especially if you are competitive or tend to suppress feelings of anger and frustration.
• Depression and some medications used to treat depression, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) may also trigger bruxism.
• Bruxism often worsens after drinking alcohol, and or excessive amounts of coffee.
Most of us don’t notice when we are experiencing bruxism since it is mostly unconscious behavior. It’s a way your body deals with stress, and over the past year we have seen a large increase in stress. On top of all the other problems the pandemic has caused, we can now add damage to teeth as another result.
How Start Smiling Dental Can Help
We typically diagnose bruxism at your dental cleaning visits. We usually see the signs before you are even aware of the problem. The first step in protecting your teeth from damage is keeping your regular dental visits.
If in between your regular visits, you are having any of the symptoms of bruxism, it’s important to see us as soon as possible so that we can treat it properly - relieve your discomfort - and save you money from further damage to your teeth.
How do we treat bruxism?
Our doctors have been through extensive training in the treatment of bruxism. They have over 30 years of experience in treating the symptoms as well as preventing damage to your teeth from its effects.
The first step is usually making you a custom fitted Bite Guard.
Bite Guards work by:
1. Separating your top teeth from your bottom teeth - providing a smooth surface which will minimize wear and breakdown of your teeth.
2. Aligning your teeth and muscles - minimizing the muscle tension associated with grinding.
With this treatment, your teeth will be protected and you will get relief from the symptoms associated with bruxism.
Coping with underlying causes:
If you are grinding because you are stressed, depressed, or anxious - treating the underlying cause will also help. Dealing with these stresses and trying to relax before bedtime can be helpful; meditation, deep breathing, mindful practices, or yoga. You can also try to make more time to do things you enjoy, such as listening to music, going for walks or reading.
Medications and supplements:
• We do not often prescribe medication for bruxism. Muscle relaxers can help temporarily in severe cases but may be habit forming.
• It has been found that low levels of magnesium can cause one to feel more anxious, muscle cramps and nausea. It can also affect muscle and nerve function. You can up your daily dosage of magnesium by eating leafy greens, avocadoes, broccoli, beans, seeds and nuts. Over-the-counter supplements may also be helpful.
• Some studies have shown that B-Complex vitamins have a significant effect on controlling bruxism. Taking B vitamin supplements in addition to Magnesium may help curb the intensity of bruxism and possibly stop it altogether. A Bite Guard will not stop bruxism but will protect the teeth from it.
The past twelve months have been stressful for everyone. We want to see all of our patients come through this pandemic healthy and that includes your mouth and teeth! If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of bruxism, please call our office for a complimentary evaluation. For the month of March, we will also give you a $100 credit towards a custom fitted Bite Guard. Give us a call at 404-255-6782 to schedule!