sleep and bruxism

The Connection Between Stress and Bruxism

December 6, 2023 9:00 am

Teeth grinding, more clinically known as bruxism, is a condition where people grind their teeth together. Some do this while awake; others do it while asleep. Stress doesn’t always cause bruxism, but many patients show a connection.

Does Stress Make Me Grind My Teeth?

While scientists can’t confirm that stress directly causes bruxism, many people clench their jaw or grind their teeth when stressed. This reaction might link to our fight or flight instinct. Read more about how stress affects oral health on our blog!

Fight, Flight, or…Bite?

When humans are faced with a stressful or fear-inducing situation, the body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to prepare the body for either a physical altercation or to flee during an emergency. These hormones do things like increase the heart rate and cause the muscles to tense. Oftentimes, this clenching of the muscles is unconscious, and the jaw is just as susceptible to these responses as the fists and legs are.

Are You Coping?

While the jury is still out on this theory, some believe that bruxism is a way for the body to deal with the stress it’s under. Those who believe this assert that the subconscious chewing action brought on by bruxism is the body’s way of working out its stress on its own. One study found that prolonged chewing led to a decrease in cortisol levels, but more research is needed before this can be ruled conclusive.

Comprehensive Dental Care In Petaluma, CA!

While there’s no absolute way to prove that stress causes bruxism, managing your stress can help prevent further damage. If you’re struggling with bruxism, some steps you can take to manage your stress are aromatherapy, exercise, meditation, painting, and other activities that help you find your inner and outer peace.

If you’ve experienced damage to your smile because of bruxism or another difficulty, call us at Alma Dental Care today to schedule your appointment. We would love to treat your smile!

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Image from Authority Dental under CC 2.0.

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