Bruxism is one of the most common dental disorders in the U.S. Today, about 10% of American adults and 15% of children suffer from bruxism. In people with a family history of the disease, about 50% of people have bruxism. While bruxism has many causes, one of the most common is stress.
Unfortunately for many people, that can make bruxism seem challenging to treat and virtually impossible to get rid of. After all, how do we limit stress in our fast-paced lives? How do we stop doing something we don’t even know we’re doing?
Fortunately, there are answers. Here’s a breakdown of a few of our favorite tactics for diminishing stress and getting rid of your bruxism:
The Connection Between Bruxism and Stress
The link between bruxism and stress has long been proved by science. According to one 2011 study published by the National Institute on Aging, bruxism occurs in much higher rates in people with anxiety and depression than people with lower stress levels. According to the study:
“The grinding of teeth has long been held as one physical manifestation of stress and anxiety. For example, individuals who grind their teeth tend to report more symptoms of anxiety and depression than non-bruxers. And, compared to non-bruxers, those who grind their teeth tend to report greater life stress and are more likely to suffer from DSM-defined depression and anxiety disorders. Even in rats, experimentally inducing emotional stress leads to brux-like symptoms, compared to controls.”
In a separate study, conducted by German researchers, study participants volunteered to help identify a link between bruxism and stress. Within the study, 69 people, including 48 known bruxers, were issued a questionnaire to see if they reported “daily problems, trouble at work, fatigue, or physical problems.”
Each participant was between 20 and 40 years old and had a sleeping partner that reported grinding sounds during the night over the past six months. Participants also reported one or more bruxism symptoms before the study, including muscle fatigue or pain on awakening, abnormal tooth wear or shiny spots on restorations and enlarged jaw muscles.
Researchers concluded that participants with high sleep bruxing activity tend to feel more stressed at work and in their daily life, and, according to the questionnaire, seem to deal with stress negatively. Bruxism is a dangerous dental problem that can not only wear down teeth but also make them sensitive or loose or even fracture them. Besides worn tooth surfaces, symptoms can include headaches and a sore jaw.
As you can see, the connection between bruxism and anxiety is well-documented. If you’ve been suffering from tooth grinding, then, the apparent first step toward treatment is to lower your stress and bring more relaxation into your life.
5 Tips to Lower Your Stress Levels
Reducing the stress levels in your life serves several vital purposes. In addition to helping you treat your bruxism and keep your teeth healthy, it’s also a great way to make your life more pleasant and relaxing, and lower your risk of depression, cancer, and other stress-related chronic diseases. Here are a few of our favorite tips for reducing stress:
1. Get Enough Exercise
Exercise is one of the most effective methods for battling stress. There are a few primary reasons for this.
- Exercise limits stress hormones. It may seem counterintuitive that putting your body through stress can decrease your body’s stress hormones, but it’s true. Exercise helps release endorphins, improve your mood, and serve as natural painkillers.
- Exercise improves sleep quality. Sleep is the first thing to go when you feel stressed or anxious. Fortunately, ample exercise can help restore healthy sleep. By contributing to a night of deeper sleep, it may also help diminish your bruxism naturally.
- Better state of mind. Exercise helps you process stress and organize your days more efficiently. By improving your mental health, it can go a long way toward boosting your daily outlook.
Never been a big fan of exercise? You don’t have to join a CrossFit gym right away. Instead, start walking, try a yoga class, or go hiking with friends.
2. Supplement for Your Health
Diet and supplementation can go a long way to decrease your daily stress and anxiety. If you feel like your bruxism has recently gotten worse, consider supplementing with a system-soothing compound like the following:
- Ashwagandha. Used throughout Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has long been used to treat stress and anxiety. It soothes the nervous system and can help the whole body take a deep breath.
- Valerian. Valerian root is a favorite sleep aid among people who have trouble getting enough Zs but don’t want to use harsh medicines. Valerian contains valerenic acid, which alters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors and helps minimize anxiety.
- Green tea. Instead of dosing on coffee every day, swap a cup out for some green tea. Green tea contains polyphenol antioxidants, which can boost serotonin levels and decrease anxiety.
3. Practice Meditation
Meditation is becoming more popular in the mainstream, and for a good reason. Studies show that even a few minutes of meditation a day can have a profound impact on stress in as little as eight weeks of practice. If you’re nervous to start meditation, begin with a simple app like Headspace, which features beginner-friendly guided meditations that last 5, 10, or 20 minutes and are easy to incorporate into your daily life.
See Your Dentist if Bruxism Continues
There are dozens of things you can do to limit your stress levels every day. Simple steps like incorporating more exercise, starting a meditation practice, and focusing on a healthy diet and supplementation can go a long way. If your bruxism continues despite these stress-reduction methods, though, it might be time to visit your dentist.
Your dentist will be able to make a recommendation about additional treatment options, ranging from a mouth guard to dental alignment and more, all of which can help you be more comfortable while also protecting the surface of your teeth.
Ready to put an end to your bruxism? Contact our team today.
Soda: it’s fizzy, sweet, and delicious. Unfortunately, it’s not great for our teeth. While most people know this, to some extent, many would be surprised to learn precisely how damaging soda can be for our oral health. And considering that about 50% of the U.S. population has at least one pop each day, this is becoming a significant problem for dental health in America.
Here’s what you need to know.
How Soda Impacts Health
While it may be delicious, it’s certainly not good for us. Here are a few massive ways soda can impact our health and wellbeing:
- Soda is linked to weight gain. Soda pop includes added sugar, typically in the form of sucrose or table sugar. These sweeteners supply simple sugars known as fructose in massive amounts. Unfortunately, fructose doesn’t do anything to lower or hunger hormones or stimulate feelings of fullness in the same ways as actually nutritionally-dense foods. When you consume liquid sugar, as seen in soda and other sugary drinks, you add more calorie intake and no more nutritional value to your daily diet. Because of this, people who drink soda on top of their daily caloric intake consumed 17% more calories than people who drink water, instead. This additional caloric intake leads to weight gain and increasing obesity levels. Additionally, since sugar increases belly fat accumulation, people who consume sugary drinks have higher levels of skin fat than people who do not.
- Sugar becomes fat in the liver. Sugar is composed of two unique molecules – glucose and fructose. While your body can metabolize glucose, fructose can only be metabolized by your liver. Since sugary drinks like soda are high in fructose, drinking them in excess overloads the liver and starts turning fructose into fat. This fat then makes its way into your bloodstream as triglycerides, while the rest of it remains in the liver. Left alone for too long, this condition contributes to fatty liver disease.
- Drinking soda can cause insulin resistance. Insulin drives glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. When this process is healthy, it’s critical for sustaining life. When people drink excessive levels of sugary soda, though, your cells become less sensitive to the impact of insulin. In these cases, the pancreas has to kick into overdrive, making more insulin to remove glucose from your bloodstream. This, then, causes insulin levels in your blood to spike. This, then, creates insulin resistance, which is one of the main factors lurking behind type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and similar disorders.
What Soda Does to Our Teeth
By now, you know that soda can increase your waistline, cause insulin resistance, and become an underlying factor for conditions like diabetes. What about how soda affects your smile, though? Here are a few impacts you might not be aware of:
1. Soda Increases the Acid Content in Your Mouth
When you take a swig of soda, the acids within it interact with the bacteria in your mouth to create acid. The acid, a bad actor in its own rite, goes to work on your teeth, attacking the enamel that surrounds and protects teeth, leading to cavities and tooth decay, and causing your gums to pull back from your teeth, exposing tender roots and hastening the process of decay.
Think this process takes a long time to enact or only happens if you drink seven sodas a day? Think again. Each sip of every soda you take kicks off a chain reaction that lasts for about 20 minutes. That means that if you sip soda all day, your mouth is under a veritable attack.
2. Soda Causes Erosion
That sugary, bacteria reaction creates a dangerous process known as erosion. Erosion starts when the acid produced by soft drinks and the bacteria in your mouth comes into contact with the enamel surrounding your teeth.
Over time (it happens very quickly, though), the reaction drills away at the hard surface of your enamel, causing holes that allow bacteria into the center of the tooth and leading to significant decay, discoloration, and more.
Over time, this erosion can also lead to cavities and other forms of tooth decay. Even teeth with composite fillings are not immune to this, as decay locates the fringes of the filling and damages the enamel there, as well.
3. Soda can Discolor Teeth
The acid content in soda contains chromogens, which are compounds with strong pigments that cling to enamel and create discoloration. Because of this, drinking a great deal of soda can make your teeth appear yellow, brown, or even green. Even brushing right away after drinking may not be enough to get rid of this discoloration, if you drink soda frequently enough.
How to Mitigate Dental Damage
While drinking soda is the best way to prevent the damage caused by acids and sugars, most dentists would agree that the occasional pop won’t destroy your dental health. If you want to keep your teeth healthy throughout, though, here are a few tips to follow:
- Drink soda in moderation. Even a single soft drink a day will do massive damage to your teeth. For best results, keep your soda consumption to on can a week or less.
- Drink it quickly. Don’t savor your soft drink, and don’t swish it around in your mouth. Instead, drink it quickly and use a straw. This gives the acids and bacterias in the soda less time to go to work on your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth afterward. As soon as you finish your soda, swish your mouth with water. This will wash away excess sugar and acids, and stop them from drilling into your teeth. 30 to 60 minutes after you finish your drink, brush your teeth thoroughly.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Financially, the best defense against ongoing dental decay is to visit your dentist. Regular cleaning and check-ups will help identify issues before they get worse.
Ready to schedule your first dental appointment? Contact our offices today.
It’s one of the sacred cows of dental hygiene: after a meal, you can pop a piece of sugar-free gum into your mouth to scrub your teeth of food remnants and beat bad breath.
And it’s no wonder we hop on this train so quickly: chewing gum is an American staple. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average American chews almost two pounds of gum each year.
But what’s the science behind the claim? Is it true that gum really cleans your teeth? Is all gum created equal? Are there any side effects of gum that we might not know about?
Here’s what you need to know:
Can Gum be Good for Your Teeth?
You can’t walk out of a grocery store nowadays without passing a rack of shiny, packaged gum that advertises a whole host of dental benefits, ranging from whitening to freshening breath. It sounds too good to be true, but is it?
No. As it turns out, the hype is real. Certain types of gum CAN be good for your teeth. You just have to know where to look. Here are a few things to keep in mind next time you head out gum shopping:
Sugarless Gum Can Help Clean Your Teeth
Sure – there are dozens of gums advertised as cavity-fighting or tooth-boosting. According to the Oral Health Foundation, though, any old sugarless gum will do:
“Chewing any regular sugar-free gum can help prevent cavities by removing food particles from the surfaces of your teeth. Chewing also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps clear away food, strengthen teeth, and reduce the levels of acid in your mouth that cause tooth decay.”
With this in mind, reach for whichever gum is your favorite. Just be sure to stay away from sugar-packed varieties, as they’ll do more harm than good for your teeth.
Gravitate Toward Xylitol
Xylitol is a compound used to replace sugar in foods like chewing gum and peanut butter. In addition to lowering the calorie content of these snacks, Xylitol helps prevent cavities. According to a 2002 study conducted at the Institute of Dentistry in Finland, Xylitol can reduce the level of cavity-causing bacteria contained in the mouth:
“Xylitol is compatible and complementary with all current oral hygiene recommendations. The appealing sensory and functional properties of xylitol facilitate a wide array of applications that promote oral health.”
While bacteria can feed on and digest traditional sugar, using it to create acid and wear away at your teeth, they can’t digest Xylitol, which makes it an excellent additive for gum dedicated to oral hygiene.
Some Gum Protects Enamel
When you thought it couldn’t get any better – some gum goes so far as to protect the enamel on your teeth. Gums with an additive known as casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP), also called Recaldent, works to mineralize and strengthen tooth enamel. This, in turn, toughens tooth enamel and decreases the likelihood of dental decay.
5 Ways to Identify Gum That Won’t Help Your Teeth
There are hundreds of kinds of gum out there. So how do you identify the brands that are good for you, and differentiate them from the ones that aren’t? Here are a few fail-proof tips:
1. Look for the ADA Seal – or Absence Thereof
Gum that is tooth-friendly earns the ADA Seal. According to the ADA itself,
“A company earns the ADA Seal by demonstrating that its product meets the requirements for safety and efficacy for sugar-free chewing gum. Studies must also show that the gum is safe for use in the oral cavity. The manufacturer must provide the results of both laboratory studies and clinical studies in humans.”
If you don’t see the ADA Seal on the gum in your hand, put it back and pick another one.
2. Steer Clear of Sugar-Containing Gum
In addition to the fact that the ADA only grants its seal of acceptance to sugar-free gums, gums that contain sugar are terrible for your teeth. Don’t worry, though – sugar-free gums still taste great and provide a touch of sweetness you’re looking for. If you want to keep your teeth healthy, reach for sugar-free varieties only.
If you’re not sure what’s a tooth-friendly choice and what’s not, ask your dentist for some recommendations. They’ll be happy to give you a few tips on what to choose next time you visit the gum aisle.
3. Beware of Intense Flavors
While flavored gums aren’t always chock-full of sugar, it’s an excellent general guideline to abide by. With this in mind, steer clear of intensely flavored gums like cinnamon and fruit varieties. It’s also wise to avoid gums that have any filling or “flavor burst,” as that’s just a cover word for sugar.
4. Chew Moderately
Everything in moderation – especially when it comes to your teeth. Even sugar-free gum isn’t great for your teeth if you have it in your mouth all the time. Instead, stick to chewing a piece after meals or between meals. A piece or two a day will be just fine for your teeth, while more than that can create excess salivation and other inconvenient issues. If you have a tough time breaking your gum habit, consider sipping water instead.
5. Talk to Your Dentist
Have any doubts about the gum you’ve selected? Take them right to your dentist. Your dentist is your first line of defense when it comes to your oral health, and they/ll work closely with you to ensure you’re making good dental health choices and picking the right products to protect your teeth.
Care for Your Teeth – Book Your Cleaning Today!
We’re happy to bust the myth that chewing gum is bad for your teeth. As long as you stay away from sugar-filled varieties and keep your chewing moderate, gum can work wonders to cut down on oral bacteria and discourage dental decay.
Ready to learn more about chewing gum and other popular oral health trends? Overdue for your yearly cleaning? Contact our team to book your first appointment today.
We all know getting your teeth cleaned and taken care of is important, many people still neglect to get their teeth cleaned twice a year. Regular teeth cleaning and checkups are not only good for your mouth but your overall health, there are several benefits of having good oral health. Good oral health is maintained by regular cleanings and checkups with your dentist.
There are so many benefits of having a clean and healthy smile, not only will your mouth thank you but you will feel better having clean teeth! Call our office today to schedule your first visit!