Are Cases Of Bruxism Likely To Rise In 2021?
As community stress levels increase, incidents of teeth grinding could also rise
As if the rapidly rising number of Covid-19 cases and deaths wasn’t enough to cause us stress, anyone watching the news last night must have wondered what is happening in the world as thousands of Trump supporters stormed Washington. Many of us will have probably been glued to our TVs for much of the night and are highly unlikely to have gone to bed in a relaxed manner.
Even in our own lives. There can be many things that cause us stress, and for some, the current lockdown situation will not be helping matters. Unfortunately, our Blue Sky Dental team can’t put the world to rights and fix the problems, but we can offer advice and help for one of the possible consequences in this increase in stress, namely Bruxism, or teeth grinding.
Bruxism largely occurs whilst we sleep and is therefore quite difficult to control. It is generally thought to be related to stress, so, in the current climate, it is probably not surprising that we are expecting to see an increase in the number of patients who are suffering from some of the consequences of this.
In today’s blog, we will take a look at some of the problems that may be associated with this and offer a few suggestions that might help in its prevention, or at least, reduction.
Effects of teeth grinding
Although we have come across a few fairly extreme cases of teeth that have shattered due to highly aggressive grinding; for most people the main problem is gradual wearing away of the enamel on our teeth. This, in itself, will weaken the teeth and does make them more likely to break. More common though are problems that present themselves more gradually.
One sign that the enamel on your teeth has been eroded is when you start to feel discomfort when you eat or drink hot or cold foods or drinks. With the thickness of the enamel now thinner, the nerves in our teeth detect extremes of temperature more easily. There may also be areas where the enamel has worn away altogether and this can cause significant discomfort in these situations.
Once an area of the surface enamel on our teeth has worn away and the dentin layer below is exposed, not only will you notice temperature changes but bacteria will be able to enter the softer and more porous dentin layer. As this part of our teeth provides access to the nerves in the root canals; as the bacteria start to attack the dentin layer, causing tooth decay, you may well experience toothache.
Root canal infections
As the dentin part of the tooth, beneath the exterior enamel layer, is porous, it also allows the possibilities of infections of the root canal. This is where the nerves in our teeth are located and can cause very significant pain. When this part of the tooth becomes affected there are only two options available. The first of these is a root canal procedure. This allows the infected pulp in the tooth to be removed and the hollow canals cleaned before being filled. The only other option available, and one that is best avoided where possible, is to have the tooth extracted and replaced using a dental implant or other prosthodontic.
There are a few options available that can help once teeth grinding has damaged the enamel to an extent where it is causing problems. In some cases, dental veneers can be used to protect the front surface of the front teeth. This can be especially helpful where teeth have become sensitive. Where other parts of the teeth have broken away or the dentin layer exposed, a white tooth filling or a crown can sometimes be used to help prevent any further deterioration.
Ultimately though, the best way to prevent these problems from arising in the first place is to try to control our stress levels. This can sometimes be easier said than done but it is worth remembering that, in many cases, what we become stressed about is out of our control. We can’t, for example, stop people storming Capitol Hill however much we frantically type our opinions on Twitter. There is little that we can do too to prevent deaths and cases of Covid-19 other than follow the guidance to stay indoors and avoid mixing with others unless absolutely essential.
What we can do is acknowledge that we have little direct effect on these types of situations and try to remove ourselves from it, especially in the lead up to our bed times. Of course this doesn’t mean that we should ignore what is going on in the world but it does mean that we should try to take some time for ourselves and find time to relax before we go to sleep.
For some people, this may be a nice warm bath, whilst for others, relaxation exercises or meditation can work wonders. One simple way is to read for a while before going to sleep although please make sure that this is something that will relax you. Reading the news on your ‘phone may not be the best idea just at the moment!
If you have noticed that your teeth have become more sensitive recently, it could be that you are suffering from Bruxism. You should not accept this as ‘normal’ and should have your teeth checked by one of our Chelmsford dental team at the earliest convenience. If you are struggling with increaed levels of stress, it also makes good sense to seek advice from your GP who will be able to provide additional guidance.
You can arrange an appointment with us by calling us on 01245 211070.
Dr Daniel Vaz De Souza – Endodontist at Blue Sky Dental – GDC number 106778