In light of the recent economic turbulence, it’s no surprise that research suggests that people are experiencing greater levels of stress. Financial sector workers, business people and now public sector workers have been particularly badly affected by the recession; many have already lost their jobs, while others are facing an uncertain future and this has started to impact upon people’s health.
Recently, a number of dentists have claimed they have seen a huge increase in the number of patients coming to them with symptoms associated with teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. Teeth grinding is a major cause of headaches, jaw pain and tooth ache and also contributes to disrupted sleep patterns for both the individual and their partner.
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is a condition which is caused by excessive grinding or clenching of the teeth; some people may only grind their teeth very occasionally and they may not experience any symptoms but others may grind their teeth on a regular basis and this can contribute to symptoms including headaches, sensitive teeth, ear ache, jaw pain and damage to the teeth.
Causes of bruxism
One of the most common causes of teeth grinding is stress but there is also evidence to suggest that people with a certain type of personality are more likely to grind their teeth; people who are very ambitious, competitive or aggressive are likely to grind their teeth and these traits are often associated with professional high-fliers. Elite sportspeople are also more likely to grind their teeth.
Stress affects most of us at some point and most of the time we manage to deal with it fairly well; however, for many people, stress is an everyday experience and prolonged periods of stress can start to affect their psychological and physiological health. A significant proportion of people are currently living with stress, as a result of hard economic times, elevated levels of unemployment and additional factors, such as problems in relationships and health problems.
Stress can be managed and treated in a variety of different ways; some people find exercising, taking time out alone, doing a hobby, seeing friends, having a warm bath or having a massage helps them to deal with stress but more severe cases will often require more complex, long-term treatment. Stress is often linked to anxiety and depression and therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling can often help to ease stress and anxiety.
Aside from treatments and therapies for stress and anxiety, bruxism can also be prevented by wearing a custom-made mouth guard during the night; the vast majority of people only grind their teeth during the night and not aware that they do it. In some cases, bruxism may be caused by dental problems relating to the bite, which is the relationship between the upper and lower teeth; if this is the case, a dentist will be able to diagnosis the cause of the problem and try to fix that problem to prevent teeth grinding in the future.
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