Stress and anxiety can be prime causes of a teeth grinding condition. Various studies on the subject over the past six years have found some interesting data. Jaw clenching and grinding the teeth can actually be the body’s way of relieving stress through aggression by managing stress responses and hormone levels, rather like shouting or hitting something can relieve feelings of tension.
Not facing up to issues and stressors – bottling up anxieties – can increase the intensity of the grinding as the body is forced to find an outlet for them. It has been found that almost 70% of teeth grinding cases can be traced to a stress-related cause.
Job-related anxiety is highest on the list of sleep-affecting stressors contributing to bruxism. This is especially true in today’s working environment, as both workers and employers find themselves increasingly available no matter where they are. As mobile communication continues to become an indispensable part of everyday life, it is harder to leave work-related stresses behind at the workplace.
Interestingly, higher educational achievement is also a documented cause of teeth grinding. This is due to the anxieties fostered in students who are regarded as high achievers by continually being expected to do exceptionally well.
Bruxism rarely appears on its own with no other triggering condition. Sleep disorders, for instance, can greatly increase instances of teeth grinding.
Conditions such as sleep apnoea (prolonged breathing pauses during sleep), insomnia, snoring, sleep talking and other disorders which regularly disturb sleep can trigger nocturnal teeth grinding when the bruxer is in the lighter stages of the sleep cycle. The more often the bruxer comes up to the upper levels of sleep during the night, the more often grinding is likely to occur.
This creates a vicious circle of stress leading to disturbed sleep, leading to further stress because of fatigue, leading to more disturbed sleep. The mechanism the body chooses to relieve the situation may well be teeth grinding.
Learning to deal with stress and managing unhealthy habits.
These five simple tips can help you do just that.
Stay positive. Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.
Meditate. This practice of inward-focused thought and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Meditation’s close relatives, yoga and prayer, can also relax the mind and body.
Exercise. Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only melts away stress, it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintain a healthy weight.
Unplug. It’s impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Cut the cord. Avoid emails and TV news. Take time each day — even if it’s for just 10 or 15 minutes — to escape from the world.
Find ways to take the edge off your stress. Simple things, like a warm bath, listening to music, or spending time on a favourite hobby, can give you a much-needed break from the stressors in your life.
We offer comprehensive dental care on a private basis for adults, including prevention and cosmetic dentistry. You can choose to pay for your dental care as you receive it or join Denplan, a budgeting scheme that allows you to make monthly payments.
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Acorn Villas Dental Practice,
64 The Grove, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 9PA
| Site last updated December 2018
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