Deccan Chronicle

Stress can cause teeth grinding

Deccan Chronicle.| Swati Sharma

Published on: May 7, 2023 | Updated on: May 7, 2023

Bruxism can lead to painful symptoms and serious oral health consequences

Dr. Prathyusha Prasad, Consultant Dentist, KIMS Hospitals

Dr. Prathyusha Prasad, Consultant Dentist, KIMS Hospitals

While it is well known that stress can harm the body in multiple ways, there’s less awareness of the fact that it can even affect dental health. Clenching teeth, also known as bruxism, can result from stress, and lead to tooth loss and other issues. Actress Demi Moore cited her "bad bite" and "clenching teeth" as reasons for losing teeth.

Bruxism is a condition in which you unconsciously grind, gnash, or clench your teeth while awake or asleep.

Cause and effect

Experts believe bruxism can be caused by anxiety and can result in headaches and pain in the jaw, face, or neck. "Tension manifests itself in the form of jaw clenching during the day and teeth grinding at night, both of which are extremely damaging to the teeth," explains Dr Venkatesh K, Cosmetic Dental Surgeon, V Dentis Dental Care

World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".

"Stress can manifest as bruxism, gum disease, decreased salivary flow, and altered eating habits. People who are stressed tend to neglect their overall health and, in particular, their oral health," says Vishnu Teja Obulareddy, Dentist and Periodontist. "Numerous studies have found that people who are stressed out are 30% less likely to visit a dentist. Their oral health would have deteriorated by the time they do go to a dentist, making it difficult for the doctor to provide the best oral healthcare possible," she notes.

Vishnu Teja adds, "When a person undergoes through stressful period, followed by treatment including medications and recovery phases, both general and oral health are neglected. Oral health is considered as an index of body and mind. From the eating patterns to their behavioural patterns, every system including the natural immunity gets altered. Good oral health is directly related to overall wellbeing and positive outcome of a person. One of my clinical research on patients with "chronic stress and their gum condition", 80% of the patients who are under active treatment phase have been identified to have active gum disease. These patients are mostly unaware about the underlying poor oral health disease and did not see a dentist. Around 60% patients who are under chronic stress have clinically advanced periodontal or gum disease manifested along with other severe oral conditions."

"The most common cause of tooth wear is parafunctional habits such as clenching and grinding (bruxism). The pain is not confined to the teeth, there is also a lot of pain around the facial muscles. Early intervention is critical to preventing it from worsening," says Dr Sreeshma Reddy MDS, Prosthodontist and implantologist.

Kids have it too

Dr. Prathyusha Prasad, Consultant Dentist, KIMS Hospitals says, "Bruxism is not only a complaint of adults but also of children. It causes MPDS (Myofacial Pain Dysfunction Syndrome).

Bruxism results in:

* Misaligned teeth

* Cracked tooth syndrome

* Loss of teeth

* Wearing down of teeth

* Painful loose teeth

* Sore jaw muscles

Identifying the problem

"Bruxism can be first diagnosed clinically after proper visual examination and further evaluated  by sleep study – polysommography," says Dr Prathyusha.

Treatment methods

"A night guard appliance and splints are initially recommended to shift the jaw and teeth into proper alignment, thus relieving jaw tension, headache and pain. Muscle relaxants are also recommended for bruxism patients because they help reduce muscle spasms," says Dr Prathyusha.

"Mouthguards and splints are plastic sheaths that create a protective barrier over the teeth, eliminating direct tooth-on-tooth grinding," adds Dr Venkatesh. If bruxism left untreated, "It may lead to jaw muscle and TMJ problems or TMD Temporomandibular Disorder). You could even lose teeth," he warns.

Preventive measures

* Reduce stress.

*  Avoid stimulating substances in the evening.

*  Practice good sleep habits.

*  Talk to your sleep partner.

*  Schedule regular dental exams.

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