Are you clenching or grinding your teeth?

Trying to fit three days of work into one? Sleep deprived because of your young children or stressful job? Running around trying to drop off the kids, go to work, do the shopping, pick up the kids, dinner, homework, work from home, sleep, wake up and do it all again?

Life is busy and stressful. More people are reacting to this stress by clenching or grinding their teeth. Most people don’t even know they are doing it; it may only be while they are sleeping. In this blog, we will look at why you clench or grind your teeth and how to discover if you are doing it, what effects this can have on your dental (and general) health, and what you can do about it.

Why do I clench or grind my teeth? And how do I know I’m doing it?

As mentioned earlier, people will often clench or grind due to being highly stressed.
You may find when you wake up in the mornings, your jaw is quite sore, stiff or painful. You may suffer from headaches, or you may even wake up with a headache. However, for most people, they won’t know they are doing it at all! They will go to their regular dental check-up, where the dentist may find damage to the molars (the large, back teeth), or chipping of the front teeth (Incisors and Canines).

What effects to clenching and grinding have on my dental health and general health?

As mentioned above, there may be damage to your teeth if you are clenching or grinding. This damage includes the loss of tooth enamel (which leads to sensitive teeth), recession of the gums and gum disease (which can lead to pain and in extreme cases tooth loss), tooth pain and broken or chipped teeth.
Sore muscles of the neck, face and jaw joint (TMJ disorder).
Many people who grind or clench their teeth complain of headaches, dizziness and pain in their jaw, face and neck muscles (with TMJ disorder).

What can I do about my clenching or grinding?

Grinding and clenching can be remedied through the use of a splint, or night guard. This is a device that the dentist will custom make for you, to fit tightly around your teeth. This will reduce the pressure you place on your teeth. It is designed to be worn every night while you sleep, when most clenching or grinding occurs.

Massage or physiotherapy of the neck, shoulders and face muscles can be an effective method to alleviate the headaches, pain and tension in the neck and face which can result from clenching or grinding. This may be combined with gently stretching the jaw.