Is Stress Causing My Jaw Pain?

Is Stress Causing My Jaw Pain?

“The dentist recently told me I grind my teeth at night and suggested I wear a night guard. He asked if I was under any notable stress lately. I looked at him and said “you mean any more than usual?!”. I have 3 kids and a full time job. ‘Stressed’ is pretty much a constant theme in my life.  Why is my teeth grinding being caused by stress?”

How is it related?

Nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching, also referred to as sleep bruxism or nocturnal bruxism, is condition that causes a person to gnash his or her teeth. This problem, which is found in both children and adults alike, can cause facial and oral complications. Statistics show that 20 to 30 percent of children grind their teeth during sleep. Bruxism can also affect adults, who may find themselves clenching their jaws even when awake. There are many possible causes of this condition, but 70 percent of the cases appear to be caused by anxiety and stress. Therefore, if you are wondering, “does stress make my teeth grinding worse?”, and if your problem mostly occurs at night, yes stress may enhance the condition.

Various Causes of Teeth Grinding

Is stress causing my jaw pain?

If teeth grinding occurs at night, you may never know if you suffer from the condition, unless you visit a dentist. It is estimated that 1 in 12 people suffer from this problem. Although experts believe that stress and anxiety are the main causes of this problem, there are other factors too. The factors may be categorized as psychological, lifestyle, and sleep disorders.

What is the Relationship Between Stress and Teeth Grinding?

Today, stress is common for parents and their children as well. The stress and anxiety of daily life may affect both your psychological and physical well-being. If you fail to cope with the problems in your life, they may manifest in one of your body organs, in this case the teeth. Grinding teeth and clenching jaws is a problem that mostly occurs during sleep. This has led many people to think, “Does stress make my teeth grinding worse?”

Most people know that stress during the day can be an impediment to a good night sleep. In addition, lack of enough sleep at night may lead to sleepiness during the day. The workplace is usually a place where several psychological factors come into play, and may help answer the question, “Does stress make my teeth grinding worse?”  One study showed that shift workers that did not like their work were more prone to bruxism than those who were satisfied with their work. The researchers also established that the men who took part in this study were under extreme stress. Bruxism was more adverse in men who did not have a social support system such as colleagues and supervisors. This was one indication that teeth grinding is related to stress.

Research shows that stress in children has increased over the years. Childhood stress may emanate from various sources including loss of a loved one, strange environments, animals, and failure to meet expectations of parents or guardians. Another study sought to establish the physical symptoms of psychological stress in children. According to the results of the study, bruxing in children of 5 and 6 years is a physical demonstration of increased aggression though this result is not accepted among all researchers.

The results from these and more studies have shown that stress and teeth grinding/jaw clenching during sleep are interrelated. It could be due to the work environment for adults or conditions at home or school for children.

Manage Stress to Reduce Sleep Bruxism

In addition to going to the doctor for bruxism treatment, it is important to determine if the condition is caused by anxiety or stress and deal with source of the anxiety or stress. If you or a member of your family is suffering from nocturnal bruxism, they are likely distressed.

Bruxism in children ceases with time so the doctor may not recommend any serious treatment hastily. If you establish the problem is stress-related, a positive step you can take is to calm the child during bedtime. Bedtime stories, soothing music, or a warm bath before sleep may help reduce stress-related bruxism. Probably the child is anxious about something at home or school. Easing anxiety through reassuring talk is usually helpful. Unfortunately, there is no known “sure fix” or cure for tooth grinding and jaw clenching so it is important to make strides to lower the stress level so that the problem does not persist .

Constant pressures at work and home could be the reason you have teeth grinding problems at night. There are also other possible causes such as obstructive sleep apnea and high intake of caffeine. Various studies have shown the impact of distress on teeth grinding, and indications are that psychological problems seem to cause or aggravate bruxism. Stress may be unavoidable in the current world but taking control of it could be the answer to teeth grinding problems.

Combat against the damages caused by teeth grinding and jaw clenching

Wearing a custom made dental night guard is not only the most comfortable option available, it is also the most effective in teeth protection. A custom made dental night guard is more durable than store bought options. Until they find a cure to stop your nighttime bruxism, make sure to protect your teeth here.

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