We live in stressful times. While safety and human accomplishment are at all-time highs, the constant go-go-go, ceaseless noise, and relentless pace of our technologically-driven world are seeing an increase in stress-related diseases and disorders including:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory problems
- Chronic headaches
- Digestive problems
- Accelerated aging
Stress also increases risks for depression, anxiety, and similar emotional struggles that can have a lasting and profound impact on every aspect of a person’s life – and always to that person’s detriment.
Stress is linked to premature death.
In addition to pre-mature death, stress is linked to bruxism, or tooth grinding. Often occurring during sleep, bruxism is an involuntary stress response, like clenching fists, meaning that it most often occurs without our knowing it. If you are a tooth grinder, you may never even be aware of it, but signs such as uneven tooth wear, cracked or broken teeth, and receding gums are all red-flags to our Cherry Creek dentists. If these dental symptoms of stress are present, we may ask if you are experiencing additional symptoms including jaw tenderness or headaches that could indicate jaw clenching and tooth grinding.
As an involuntary stress response, it can be tricky to treat bruxism. We may recommend an occlusal guard to be worn while sleeping and, in some cases, all day to help prevent tooth grinding. We may also recommend stress-reduction practices such as:
- Yoga and meditation
- Group fitness classes
- Outdoor activities
- Ritualizing gratitude
All of these things can work to bring you into the present moment and away from your unconscious stress-responses. There is significant science behind recommendations to spend time outside when stressed or to complete a simple meditation when feeling overwhelmed. And all of the data suggests healthy people, those who exercise regularly and eat well, tend to experience great reductions in stress and automated stress responses like muscle tension in the hands, arms, chest, neck, and jaw as well. One more reason to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle.
The best way to effectively undo an automatic response is to pay attention to it and, when it presents itself, move in the opposite direction. When it comes to ending bruxism, this small effort can help eliminate chronic pain and prevent serious and irreversible damage to your teeth, gums, and jaw. It might even help save your life.
Contact Us Today
If you are a tooth grinder, call DeWitt Dental at 303-321-5656 to learn how we can help. We serve Cherry Creek and all surrounding Metro Denver communities.