Bruxism: What Is It And How Can You Manage It During The Holidays?
Does holiday stress already have you grinding your teeth more than usual? For many people, holidays are the most stressful periods of the year. This is when many social events like family gatherings, office parties and parties with friends take place.
Amidst this hustle and bustle, all manner of psychological problems may crop up. These include stress and pressures due to impossible expectations and the absurd demands placed on us by our social circles. The end result of this annual turbulence in our lives is depression, fatigue and anxiety. These troubles are often a catalyst for people who clench their teeth. In essence, the much vaunted holiday cheer can come with unwanted, serious dental problems
Clenching or grinding your teeth as you sleep makes you wake up with tightened face muscles, sensitive teeth, headaches and even painful spasms in the head muscles.
This is a serious issue that requires you to visit a dentist to avoid great harm to your temporal mandibular joint or your dentition.
Occasional clenching and grinding of teeth (also called bruxism) is normal for many people, and it is usually harmless.
However, when it becomes a regular habit, it can result in significant teeth damage. A constant, dull headache or a sore jaw is a sure pointer that you are grinding your teeth in your sleep. Your partner can also make you aware of the problem since he or she may hear it clearly as you sleep at night. Other telltale signs of bruxism include worn-down tooth enamel,pain similar to an earache,a headache around the temple and sores due to biting and chewing the inside of the cheek. The fact is, many people that suffer from this disorder do not believe they grind or clench their teeth.
Here’s an interesting tidbit of information that may help unveil why we don’t believe we really grind or clench our teeth:
If you do grind, it only happens in short bursts; it’s not all night. Each instance may only last for 30 seconds to a minute. You may well sleep with your mouth open 90% of the night (doubtful), but still grind the heck out of your teeth during the 10%.
Sometimes bruxism can lead to loosening, fracturing or loss of teeth. The constant clenching or grinding can make the teeth wear down to unsightly, little stumps. This is quite expensive to restore so it is advisable to prevent bruxism occurring in the first place.
There are several risk factors that enhance one’s probability of developing bruxism. The first one is age. It is very common in children, and can progress into adulthood or start during adulthood. High stress levels can also trigger its onset. Taking of substances such as tobacco, alcoholic and caffeinated beverages or medical stimulants also enhance the risk of suffering from bruxism.
If your dentist suspects that you are suffering from bruxism, he or she examines and evaluates several aspects ,including teeth and mouth tissue damage, jaw and mouth tenderness(or pain) ,broken, missing and worn teeth.
Anxiety and stress are the most common cause of bruxism. A popular myth is that abnormal teeth alignment (also called malocclusion) is a cause of bruxism. This is not true. It does not matter whether your teeth fit together all crooked or they’re perfectly straight. The “bite” has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you grind your teeth. Sleep problems like sleep apnea (involuntary stopping of breathing while asleep) and Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (also called TMJ and denotes problems with the joint connecting jawbone and skull) are a common cause of bruxism. It is crucial to diagnose the cause of the bruxism before corrective measures are applied.
The dentists may also track down any teeth changes during the course of your visits. You may also fill questionnaires and undergo x-ray scans.
Permanent effects of Bruxism and solutions
Chronic, severe grinding damages teeth and leads to tooth loss. It can also distort your smile, your hearing and the temporal mandibular joint-finally changing how your face appears. For children with bruxism, getting treated is rare since many of them outgrow it.
Once your dentist determines you have bruxism, he or she can assemble a customized night guard to arrest further damage to your dental system. The dentist should be experienced enough to choose the right one for you since there are many types with different features and usage. Ideally, your night guard should feel comfortable-and should not make you hurt in the mouth. Apart from dental protection tools such as splints and mouth guards, there are dental treatment techniques meant for proper alignment of teeth. Teeth realignment may involve braces or oral surgery in extreme cases.
There are also several therapeutic techniques that can be used to curb the habit of bruxism and bring relaxation and minimize stress. Issues to be addressed at this point include controlling anxiety and dealing with the trigger points (tightened muscles) and the long-running clenching habit.It is also important to rule out parasites as one of the contributory factors of bruxism.
Mitigating against holiday-induced stress requires you to take a few simple steps:
- Getting more organized and being assertive
- Make lists! List all tasks you intend to do and use an appointment book to highlight events that you have to attend. This kind of organization imbues a feeling of control in your life.
- Say no to events you feel are unimportant. This creates room for attending events you want to. Remember you are the most important person that you need to take care of. You can even decline all events and spend the holiday resting and rejuvenating.
- Setting strict budgets
- Money shortage is one of the leading sources of stress over the holidays. Set a budget and stick to it, no matter who will be upset by this. Do not get into unnecessary debt that will make your next year a nightmare.
- Giving personalized gifts
- You can display your loving and caring side without being extravagant. Consider offering gifts like personalized notes and attractively packaged home-baked foods and snacks.
Spend time with family and friends sharing activities like gift wrapping, decorating and cooking holiday meals.
- Being true to yourself
- Do not try too hard to have the perfect holiday for your friends and family. Concentrate on the important traditions that make the holiday season feel special to you. And also do not forget that family issues do not disappear just because it is holiday season. If you have issues with your relatives, limit the time you spend with them during visits.
- Lifestyle adjustments
Other ways of reducing tension and stress due to holidays include eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep, physical exercises such as jogging and yoga and even massage and meditation.
- Getting help
Consider visiting a therapist. There are also other therapists who use unusual methods such as energy healing sessions where you can relax and metaphysical healers who can assist you overcome the emotional traumas that are responsible for your stress.
Using the above methods can help you when you sense your jaw tightening or heart pounding due to impeding holiday activities. Also remember that some therapies work gradually. Therefore begin with a mouth guard to protect your teeth as you address the causes of your stress.