FLOWOOD, Miss. (WLBT) - You may have noticed tightness in your face, neck and jaw. Dentists say night stress is on the rise in 2020.
It starts with grinding or gnashing your teeth at night – a condition called Bruxism. Many think it’s not any worse for their teeth than chewing, so they don’t seek dental help for it.
Dr. Douglas Rummells of Integrity Dental Clinic said there’s a lot more going on when you’re grinding your teeth than you think.
“And so these muscles are pretty strong and if I were to get you to register how hard you can bite, statistically you’re going to bite down four times harder when you’re asleep,” he said. “And so when you’re stressing out these muscles are doing their thing, these teeth are clinching together.”
That can wear you out as fast as your teeth, says Dr. Charles Ramsey of the Mississippi Center for Orofacial Pain and Sleep Medicine. It can hinder even simple tasks like chewing and talking.
“These power muscles are not getting rest, so people wake up with headaches and as the day goes on the muscles are in such a tone they can’t handle the stresses of the day,” said Ramsey.
The American Dental Association did a study on the effects of 2020 stress on patients' teeth.
“Over 50 percent are seeing an increase in the stress level of their patients. More fractured teeth, more broken teeth, so it’s becoming much more widespread,” Rummells said.
One group definitely affected is nurses, Ramsey said. Another less likely group is teenage girls.
“They need the social life, and you quarantine them at home and many don’t do well, they just don’t,” said Ramsey. “They need that social life and their depression gets worse, their anxiety gets worse.”
Both Rummells and Ramsey said if you’re experiencing bruxism, please see a dentist.
“It’s much better for you to get an inexpensive night guard to keep you from grinding than to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars down the road to fix your teeth,” said Rummells.