Finding yourself Grinding your Teeth?

Many have noticed they might clench or grind their teeth on occasion, especially when stressed out. As you may know, teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can cause damage to your teeth and even lead to other oral health issues. For instance, it can cause your teeth to fracture, diminish in size, become loose, or even lead to the loss of teeth. This can result in the need for expensive dental procedures down the line, such as crowns, root canals, bridges, or prostheses to replace missing teeth including implants or partial dentures.

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, dentists across the nation, and even world, are seeing some of the toll it has taken on individuals, even on their teeth. There has been a significant increase in reported teeth grinding and other oral health issues since the start of the pandemic, as reported by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. A survey conduced by the American Dental Association (ADA) found that there has been a 59.4% increase in cases of teeth grinding and clenching found in dental offices since the start of the pandemic. In addition, they found that temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and chipped and cracked teeth has increased over 50%, which may be associated with the increased teeth grinding. Although there is not a direct correlation between the increase in teeth grinding and the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Matt Messina, clinic director of Ohio State Upper Arlington Dentistry, stated, “it does demonstrate the signs of increased stress in the population.”

Teeth grinding can even be experienced in children, too. In fact, approximately 15% to 33% of children grind their teeth. Often, it has been found that children may grind their teeth during the time when their baby teeth begin to come in and also during the transition into their permanent dentition. Luckily, teeth grinding in children is often not permanently damaging and children often outgrow the habit.

Many people commonly grind their teeth when they are sleeping, and is often pointed out by individual's partners or loved ones who hear them doing this habit at night. This phenomenon is particularly present in individuals who have sleep disorders, malocclusion, and/or  crooked teeth. Individuals who grind their teeth may be pained by a dull, constant headache when they wake up, or even a sore jaw. Teeth grinding can result in or worsen Temporomandibular disorders (TMD). 

Some other symptoms of teeth grinding include:

  • Neck pain.
  • Ear pain.
  • Jaw pain, soreness and stiffness.
  • Painful or sensitive teeth.
  • Pain while you chew.
  • Popping, clicking or grinding noises when moving the mouth and jaw.
  • Cracking or chipping of teeth or fillings.
  • Loose teeth or pain on biting.

You may be wondering what to do about teeth grinding. Some tips to help stop teeth grinding include avoiding certain foods and drinks such as alcohol, caffeine, sodas, and chocolate. Plus, it can help to try to help relax your jaw muscles by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek. If you notice that you grind your teeth during the daytime, try to become conscious of what your are doing, and position the tip of your tongue  between your teeth to help train your jaw muscles to relax. Try avoiding chewing gum as it can increase the strain on your jaw muscles. 
If you think teeth grinding may be happening during your sleep, or even find yourself doing it throughout the day, it is important to talk with your dentist. Commonly, dentists will recommend a night guard for individuals suffering from teeth grinding to wear at night to help protect the surfaces throughout sleep. Other treatments that have been found to be beneficial include stress counseling, jaw relaxation training, exercising, and muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory medications. However, treatments are determined after a comprehensive examination and diagnosis by your dentist.
This pandemic has impacted us all, but our community is indeed all stronger together. Our team at WDG always has your safety and health as our top priority, and we have implemented additional safety measures and equipment to help prevent the transmission of all infections, including COVID-19. Wellesley Dental Group has completely reopened since June 8th, 2020 for all dental procedures and cleanings! Thank you for entrusting your health and dental care to us at Wellesley Dental Group.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.


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