Let’s face it – it’s been a pretty stressful year. That shows up in many ways, from extra trips to the refrigerator to sleepless nights. But one of the biggest impacts we see here is patients who grind their teeth (also referred to as bruxism). If you’re a grinder, you might need a night guard. Here’s more on symptoms to watch for, why it happens, and what to do.
How to Know if Stress is Affecting Your Teeth
Some of the signs are more obvious than others. The first thing to know about stress is that it can grind you down, literally and figuratively. It’s impacts can be severe, and we always advise reducing stress, not just treating the symptoms.
Once it’s there, it’s bound to create more problems, and your teeth are definitely on the list. There are two primary ways stress can affect your teeth.
One is chemical, the other is physical.
Chemical Effects of Stress on Teeth
Chemical effects show up in the form of acid reflux. If you do have acid reflux from stress, you’d want to get your primary care physician involved to treat it. Acid wear in the teeth makes them look glossy, it causes a chemical erosion and you can even see pitting in the teeth.
Stress also often impacts eating habits, and we can tend to binge eat sugary foods, drink, and smoke more. Those types of foods and activities impact the teeth and can cause cavities.
Physical Effects of Stress on Teeth
Physical effects show up in the form of grinding teeth, which can break down the enamel and cause your teeth to break. Not everyone realizes they’re grinding until they wake up every day feeling sore and sensitive. Here are some of the signs you might be grinding your teeth and may need a nightguard:
- Cracked or uneven teeth
- Sensitive teeth when pressure is applied
- Sore jaw
- Locked jaw (difficulty opening)
How a Night Guard Helps
A night guard, also referred to as a mouth guard or bite guard, doesn’t affect stress, but it can help reduce the effects of stress-related grinding on your teeth.
It serves as a barrier between your teeth to protect them from the pressure and abrasion of grinding.That saves your enamel and helps you relax the muscles in your jaw.
It’s important to have your dentist fit you properly if you need a night guard to ensure that it does its job and doesn’t cause other problems with sleeping or shifting the alignment of your teeth.
To schedule an appointment, fill out this form, or call our office at 815-886-0875.