Are you stressed out and have a sore jaw? You could be clenching and grinding your teeth -- and it’s something dentists are seeing evidence of more and more.
According to the American Dental Association, the number of patients reporting symptoms has increased by a whopping 69% since 2020.
It’s actually a medical disorder called Bruxism, in which the patient clenches or grinds their teeth -- unconsciously at night or during the day.
“According to dentists, there are a large number of causes, but among the main factors that could increase the risk of developing this disorder are stress, anxiety, and tension,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Catherine Roberts.
People with Bruxism may wake up with a sore or stiff jaw or neck, a headache, or ringing in the ears. And worse, it can lead to damaged teeth.
To relieve discomfort and prevent further damage, schedule an appointment with your dentist to determine the severity of the disorder and make a plan of action.
“Wearing a guard at night is usually the number one line of defense according to some dentists, a guard puts space between upper and lower teeth to protect them and allows the jaw muscles to relax. A guard made by your dentist or an endodontist will be more effective than an over-the-counter one, but also more expensive,” Roberts said.
In addition to a mouthguard, many patients find that relaxing activities like yoga and meditation can help ease jaw tension.
Experts may also advise seeing a physical therapist trained to treat bruxism who can teach you exercises to stretch, strengthen, and relax the muscles in your neck and jaw involved in clenching and grinding.
For severe cases, your dentist might even suggest Botox injections. The injections into the jaw muscles that control chewing may reduce the pressure you exert on teeth.
Continuing Coverage of 4 Your Smile
Information about teeth clenching and grinding is part of our series this week on The Morning Show: 4 Your Smile.
- Monday, we helped you choose the best products for a cleaner and healthier mouth -- breaking down options for toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss.
- Tuesday, we focused on how flossing is not only important for your dental hygiene but also for your heart.
- Thursday, we gave you answers about whitening your teeth at home. We told you the biggest mistakes people make and revealed what really works.