Bruxism: how stress can affect your teeth

At Ironside Advanced Dental, we know life can get stressful – it’s enough to make you (literally) grind your teeth!

Sydney is a vibrant, energetic, fast-paced city, and its beating heart is the bustling CBD. We live and work in this humming, busy, thriving hub – and sometimes it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the breakneck pace. Our lives are getting busier, our social calendars are fuller, our jobs are more demanding – it’s no wonder that in their 2015 Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey, the APS (Australian Psychological Society) reported that 72% of Australians believe that stress was having an impact on their physical health. Stress can affect your body through a range of symptoms, from muscle pains to migraines, to insomnia. But did you know that stress can also affect your teeth?

What on earth is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth. It’s what’s known as a parafunction, which means it’s unrelated to the normal functions of your jaw and teeth, like talking or eating. Bruxism usually occurs subconsciously, during sleep – you don’t even know that you’re doing it. And the most common cause of bruxism is – you guessed it – stress.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of bruxism can include:

  • Loose, chipped or fractured teeth
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles; jaw or face soreness
  • Unusually sensitive teeth
  • Headaches
  • Indentations on your tongue or damage from chewing the inside of your cheek
  • Grinding or clenching that’s loud enough to wake someone sleeping next to you

I think I have bruxism, what do I do?

Don’t stress! The first thing you should do if you experience any or all of the above symptoms is to visit Ironside Advanced Dental for a consultation. There are excellent treatment options available, the most common being an occlusal splint. An occlusal splint is made of hard acrylic and fitted to your upper jaw and teeth, and is most commonly worn at night. An occlusal splint won’t stop you grinding, but it can help protect your teeth from further damage, as well as take stress off your jaw and facial muscles by holding your jaw in a more comfortable position. Splints are custom made and moulded to your teeth for maximum comfort.

Don’t put it off any longer