People manifest stress in many different ways. Some people, without even knowing they are doing it, clench and grind their teeth, particularly when they sleep.
Common Symptoms are:
- Worn down teeth
- Cracked and fractured teeth
- Headaches and neck-aches
- Jaw joint pains; TMJ pain (temporo mandibular joint pain)
Most patients are unaware of their problem. Headaches and pain in your TMJ joints are a starting point in the diagnosis. These symptoms are often associated with stressful situations. During the day if we are aware that we are clenching or grinding out teeth, just stop — then relax and separate the teeth.
Night-time grinding, called sleep bruxism, is harder to deal with because we have no idea we are grinding our teeth. We usually construct a night time only splint or guard that protects the teeth, because the night-guard prevents the teeth from coming into contact. This will protect the teeth by stopping excessive tooth wear and/or associated headaches, caused by the tension of the muscles that make the jaw move.
The night-guard acts as a smooth surface, like an ‘ice-rink’ to allow smooth gliding of the jaws, with no catching of individual teeth.