Dr. David Bishop, DDS

Dr. David Bishop, DDS

Stress is a challenge we all deal with. We may or may not be able to control how our body deals with it.

One vent or response to stress is clenching our teeth.

There are many terms to describe it; gnashing, clenching, grinding or bruxing. If there are differing definitions to each of those terms, the end result is still the same with the mouth;

In the past some recreational drugs caused severe clenching of teeth to the extent that many molars split in two, resulting in an extraction. Grinding teeth can occur with children to the extent that we can hear them in their sleep. Adults can grind in their sleep so annoying that their spouse can’t sleep. Some clenching can occur with no sound. Most of this involuntary problem occurs in our REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is a deeper type of sleep, but is not the deepest sleep we can have. Since we have no control over our actions during this sleep, how do we protect our teeth from the damage this grinding can cause?

stressed out teeth clench

Easy, eliminate stress.

Then write the book.

The issue is somewhat understood originating from ideas from the dental field but is not particularly exact science. The pattern for the eruption of teeth starts from an eruptive force of some sort, and our muscles and contacting teeth while eating guides them to their respective mature location. Cultures eating more difficult foods to chew tended to have a more ideal arrangement and set of teeth than cultures that ate softer foods. As cultures mingled, those notions got clouded when mismatched physique from a large robust German married a petite English lady. The child inherited the small mouth with big teeth and any amount of natural eruptive forces couldn’t straighten the teeth. The interferences in the guiding contours of the teeth stimulated grinding in an attempt to position the tooth into the correct alignment. Maybe?

Bruxism splints, made to help with the uncontrolled grinding of teeth, are made with an acrylic material like a retainer and cover all the teeth, or the result would cause the uncovered teeth to move orthodontically out of place. This splint is usually worn at night and repositions the mouth to an area that causes muscles to release rather than contract. It does not train us to stop grinding but helps pass through our stressful time and maybe we can put it aside until another stress cycle begins.

Most people wear them every night since it has a relieving character to it lending to a more relaxed sleep, regardless of our stress experience. This is a very superficial description of a treatment with many variables.

The Dentist of Allen can provide you with solutions to protect your teeth and maybe improve your sleep if you feel your stress is vented by clenching your teeth at night.

David Bishop, DDS