The Daily Grind

Published on December 6, 2012 by

With the finals right around the corner and the holidays merely weeks away, stress levels are rising all around us. Most of us may not know we’re stressed because our teeth are taking the brunt of things. As stress levels rise, so does the amount of tension we carry with us and most of us are unaware of how our bodies relieve this tension. Studies have shown that when we’re stressed, women in particular, will begin to grind their teeth while sleeping and with the recent collapse and state of the economy, men have picked up this bad habit as well. Stressed men and women tend to wake up with jaw pain and even headaches and are unaware that they are grinding their teeth all night long. This can go on for several weeks before they make a call to their dentist thinking it may be tooth ache. More often or not, a dentist will take one look in their mouth and can immediately tell they have been grinding.

There are a couple of different treatment methods to help alleviate the pain associated with teeth grinding. Mouth guards are the most common and there are a couple different variations of these:

1. Over the counter teeth grinding mouth guards are usually made of a flexible plastic. There are two types of OTC mouth guards: stock and “boil-and-bite.” Stock mouth guards come ready to wear. “Boil-and-bite” guards can be heated and molded to achieve a somewhat better fit. These prevent dental surfaces from touching, and hold teeth in a stationary position, relieving the chipped teeth, sore neck and facial muscles, and painful jaws that night time teeth grinding can result in. Since these grinding mouth guards are readily available from Wal-Mart, Target, or any sporting goods store, they tend to be rather inexpensive.

2. You can also get a mouth guard from your dentist. This type of guard requires a dentist to take impressions of a patient’s teeth, and send the impressions to a dental laboratory who will create a guard designed specifically around the unique shape of the patient’s mouth. Because they are more labor intensive than over the counter mouth guards, as well as requiring more specialized training and preparation, prescription teeth grinding mouth guards tend to be more expensive but are generally the best option.

For more information about teeth grinding and the different types of mouth guards available, contact Family Dental Center at 605-886-2805.

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