Your stressful job could be damaging your teeth in irreversible ways — especially if you find yourself clenching or grinding during the day.
While teeth grinding — or actively and forcefully rubbing your teeth together — more commonly occurs while people are sleeping, it can happen during the day as well, Dr. Angela P. Abernathy, DDS, a restorative and cosmetic dentist with Boutique Smiles, said.
“The most common causes of daytime grinding are stress and excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption. It can also be caused by the teeth or jaws not coming together properly.”
Those that have high-stress jobs or high stress, in general, may be more susceptible to this, she added.
Jaw and temple pain, jaw tightness, flattened or cracked teeth, and teeth loss can result from teeth grinding. Often, these symptoms aren’t reversible, and a patient will need multiple crowns or root canals as a result, Dr. Abernathy said.
Since grinding due to stress is more psychosomatic, Dr. Abernathy explained that finding ways to reduce stress is the best way to curb the habit.
“This can be done with yoga, meditation, or even massage therapy. Physical therapy can also help. Caffeine and alcohol can trigger muscles to be hyperactive, so reducing (or eliminating) alcohol and caffeine intake and drinking more water can help ease tooth grinding.”
Reaching out to a trained mental health professional could be a good step in the right direction, too.
And, of course, you should seek help from your dentist — they could prescribe you a custom mouthguard to protect your teeth from damage or maybe suggest Botox treatments, which could help your muscles to relax, Dr. Abernathy said.
Depending on the severity of the damage, a full-mouth rehabilitation could be needed, too, which involves guiding the jaw, muscles, and teeth into the correct position to stop or prevent grinding through Deprogrammers, a bite adjustment, or orthodontics work, she added.