Stress is a constant in modern life. And it’s increasing recently. More people are reporting stress-related symptoms than in the past. Among the symptoms of stress is bruxism, the clenching and grinding of teeth. In fact, as much as 70% of bruxism cases are related to stress.
Teeth clenching and grinding can have a complex suite of effects on your teeth and jaws. It can contribute to the development of TMJ, and it can cause cracking, wear, and chipping of teeth. Being aware of the types of stress that could be contributing to your bruxism can help you counter them and relieve your bruxism. Here are some types of stress that have been linked to bruxism.
Workplace and Money Stress
Workplace and money stress are the most significant sources of stress for Americans. So it’s not a surprise that this should also be one of the leading causes of bruxism. People with this stress source tend to clench and grind during the day, often at work or directly after.
Other times, bruxism can occur before bed, when you’re lying awake thinking about the problems you’re facing.
People with workplace stress are also at increased risk for sleep bruxism.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is often thought of as relating to veterans’ combat stress, but PTSD can be brought on by any traumatic situation. People who are involved in violence, abuse situations, or car accidents are among the most common sufferers of PTSD.
Although the traumatic situation has passed, people with PTSD retain the stress, and many of them develop bruxism as a result.
In the past, people didn’t report family situations as being a significant source of stress, but this has changed. Nowadays people are more likely to report family life as a major source of stress. Particularly stressful situations may include marital tensions, child behavioral problems, and the care of sick or elderly family members. When people feel stress for this reason, it can compound other stress and create a situation where someone has essentially no stress-free time.
Social stress is also very common. Humans are social animals, so we like to be around other people, but being around other people is also stressful. There are pressures of comparison and pressures to interact with others. And with social media, people are virtually crowded together more than ever, which increases the social pressures.
One very specific form of social pressure has been strongly correlated with bruxism: bullying. For teens, bullying has been shown to significantly increase the risk of bruxism. But if you think that bullying is something that stops at the schoolhouse, you’re wrong. Workplace bullying is a reality for many people, and it can be just as stressful.
Treating Stress-Related Bruxism
If you have bruxism related to stress, a night guard can help protect your teeth in the short term. Hopefully, relieving the source of stress will alleviate your bruxism, and then we can look at repairing the damage done.
Full mouth reconstruction is often necessary for bruxers. In the process, we won’t just repair your teeth, we can help reestablish a healthy bite that is comfortable and effective. You’ll have a smile that’s beautiful, natural, and functional.