Sometimes, events that are out of our control can cause us to damage our teeth subconsciously, writes Dr Vinaya Soundrarajan.
Whatever your views are on one of the most hotly debated topics in recent history, there is a good chance that the outcome, or lack of outcome, may be causing you a certain degree of stress, anger or anxiety.
Subjects like this, which are largely out of our control, but which can potentially have a major impact on our lives, can often cause external signs of anxiety to manifest. One of these is that some of us will grind our teeth whilst we sleep. This can be very damaging and will eventually result in worn down teeth, and even breakages in more extreme cases.
Because grinding our teeth, or Bruxism, as it is also known, mainly happens when we are asleep, it can be very difficult to control, and ultimately, where it is caused by stress, the only permanent remedy is to deal with whatever it is that is causing this. Below, Dr Soundrarajan takes a more detailed look.
It is quite possible that you don’t even know that you are grinding your teeth. This can mean that a long period of time can pass before you notice some of the more obvious symptoms such as a worn or broken tooth. The following though, are some potential signs that you may be carrying out this tooth damaging habit in your sleep.
- Aching neck or jaw
- Sinus discomfort
- Regular headaches, particularly upon waking
- An increase in the sensitivity of your teeth
- Discomfort or difficulty when opening your mouth
Whilst these may also be caused by other factors, they are often good indicators that you may be suffering from bruxism.
Dealing with teeth grinding
If you are aware, or suspect, that you do grind your teeth, you should let your dentist know about this. The dentists at our Purley practice can offer advice and will also be able to help keep your teeth in as good a condition as possible until such time that you can overcome it. We can also provide protective devices known as a “splint” or mouth-guard to help minimise the damage.
There are a few things that you can do yourself which can also help to alleviate the problem a little.
- Ease the strain upon your teeth and jaw by minimising the amount of harder food that you eat.
- Use a heat pack or a warm damp cloth and apply to the jaw area to help relieve any discomfort.
- Talk to your pharmacist about an appropriate anti inflammatory medication. Many of these also double up to offer pain relief.
- Try to identify what is causing you stress and either try to do what is necessary to overcome it, or, alternatively, work on changing your reaction to the issue. Some patients find that relaxation or meditation techniques work in these situations. It may be that you require assistance from your GP with this.
Seeing a dentist may not help you to overcome the cause of your bruxism causing anxiety, but we can help to make sure that your teeth are protected as far as possible. Worn or broken teeth are very likely when you grind them, but fillings and other restorations, such as veneers or crowns, may also weaken or become loose. Additional dental work and monitoring may also be required until such time that your tooth grinding is under control. Once your situation has stabilised, we will be pleased to discuss the range of treatments available at the Confidental Clinic, to fully restore your teeth on a more permanent basis.
If you would like to see one of our dentists to discuss in more detail, please contact our team by telephone or use the contact form available on our website.
Dr Vinaya Soundrarajan is based at Confidental Clinic in Purley (GDC 161463).