Bruxism: What To Do About the Daily Grind

Life is stressful. Whether the source be work, love, or family (or, perhaps, how much you work to love your family), stress is nearly inescapable. And while there are many external vices you might indulge in, one physiological coping mechanism many of us turn to is clenching and grinding our teeth, also known as bruxism.

Bruxism can lead to a number of problems. In particular, overworking your muscles of mastication to cause jaw joint issues, or even painful headaches. These headaches typically develop behind your eyeballs, and it’s important to address them for a number of reasons.

First, and most obvious, you probably don’t want to be walking around all day with a burning pain in your head. Secondly, grinding or clenching can prematurely wear away tooth enamel.

How do you know if you experience bruxism?

You might wake up in the morning and feel like you have to pry your mouth open; that’s a classic sign that you’ve been clenching your teeth in your sleep. Another tip-off is your partner complaining about the distinct grinding sound that kept them awake all night.

You might be thinking, what’s the harm? I don’t mind sleeping on the couch every once in a while, and surely that’s what teeth are there to do—take on mouth stress?

Well, studies have measured the actual amount of time that teeth make contact over a 24-hour period. The total was 12 minutes. And that’s mostly while eating.

Not only does bruxism wear away crucial tooth structure, but the tension around the ligament holding the tooth in place actually causes gum recession around the roots.

But don’t let that stress you out even more: there are simple steps that can be taken to deal with bruxism.
Ideally, you’d love to go straight to the source: do away with the stress, and the symptoms often follow suit.

Sometimes, however, surefire stress relievers like an all-inclusive getaway just isn’t a viable option. And so, we encourage you to visit Dr. Jerry Vasilakos at Planet Dentistry in Toronto, Ontario, for help.

One method we have recently taken to is referring patients to a massage therapist. Through deep tissue massage stress and tension around the jaw joints and muscles is alleviated.

Another way of dealing with bruxism is to create an appliance or mouth guard for your teeth. These appliances are typically crafted from acrylic and thermoplastic material, so they have a little flex to it. Wear the appliance during the night, and it prevents you from maximally closing your jaw, giving your muscles an opportunity to relax.
These redistribute the grinding forces throughout the jaw and have no detrimental effect on the enamel or gums.

There are, of course, some habits you just can’t quit. But if your bruxism continues, at least you will be grinding on the easily replaceable acrylic appliance, rather than valuable teeth enamel.