Grinding your teeth may be a sign that you are too stressed – but often you don’t even know you’re doing it until the effects start affecting your health, including your oral health. Grinding your teeth during the night is called “bruxism,” and the dangers posed by teeth grinding concern dentists. Surprisingly, it seems that bruxism and your stress levels go hand-in-hand. According to The Bruxism Association, nearly 70% of teeth grinding occurs as a result of stress or anxiety.

Bruxism is a subconscious behavior that is actually quite common. The majority of bruxism cases occur when patients are asleep. When people grind their teeth at night, they usually don’t sleep well and may wake up with jaw or tooth pain. Long-term harm to your teeth includes grinding them so much that they get worn down to ugly, flat stubs.

Before it gets to that point, try to reduce your stress so you can reduce teeth grinding. Otherwise, it’s a vicious cycle: Stress can cause teeth grinding and teeth grinding then causes more stress. Because stress is a major contributing factor in teeth grinding in Lawrence and everywhere else, start by reducing as many constant stress triggers in your work and home life as you can. If left alone, teeth grinding and clenching can become a harmful habit rather than just a reaction to stress, and you’ll need more serious intervention.

Focus on these ways to reduce stress in your life:

  • Meditation/relaxation techniques: Practice breathing techniques to combat stress, read a book before bed or take a nightly bubble bath to relax.
  • Exercise/yoga class: Enroll in a gym or yoga classes. Take a friend to keep you focused and make it fun!
  • Reduce work stress: Trying a different route to work with less traffic, try to work from home some days if you can and leave work at work.
  • Self-care/social support: Plan time to spend with friends and take time out for yourself now and then. If you can’t handle your stress, try counseling to help.

If you figure out your particular stressor and you can minimize it, it will be easier to stop grinding your teeth. If you think you have this harmful habit, don’t wait until you grind your teeth to stubs!

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