Is Grinding Your Teeth a Sign of Anxiety?

Is Grinding Your Teeth a Sign of Anxiety?

The Brux Doc The Brux Doc
5 minute read

Teeth grinding can be a sign of conditions such as misalignment, sleep apnea, and TMJ disorders. However, it is most frequently related to increased levels of stress, like the stress caused by anxiety or by an anxiety disorder.

What is anxiety, really?

Anxiety comes in lots of forms. But there are two general categories the experience falls into “casual” or “everyday” experiences of anxiety and anxiety disorders. Differentiating between the two is a measure of how much anxiety impacts normal functioning on a regular basis.

Casual anxiety is experienced by most people over the course of a lifetime. It is usually set off by specific events—such as a job interview, an exam, a disagreement, or a high-stakes meeting. And symptoms can include a butterflies-in-the-stomach sensation, excessive sweating, a dry mouth, and/or a sense of worry or concern.

With anxiety disorders, by contrast, anxious incidents occur more frequently, and they can be more extreme. Plus, they are not always linked to triggers that would be considered particularly stressful from an outsider’s perspective. These disorders include generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety.

Over forty-million people have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders just in the US. So, if you’re worried that you have one, no fear, you’re not alone. You can seek help and support. There are many treatments and approaches that can keep symptoms of anxiety disorders at manageable levels.

What are the symptoms of anxiety disorders?

Symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) include a heightened sense of worry or concern over an extended period of time—such as six months—problems sleeping, and panic attacks. But you can also experience symptoms that you may not immediately associate with stress, such as increased muscle tension (including tension in the neck and jaw) and various forms of indigestion.

Sometimes, people with GAD report that they are not stressed because they are not thinking about the stressors in their lives consciously, but their bodies tell a different story.

Social anxiety disorder usually kicks in at the prospect of socializing or in the presence of people, and it can include blushing frequently, fearing embarrassment, worrying about offending people, or obsessing about the possibility of being rejected. It can also have physical manifestations, such as nausea, sweating, or trembling.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by ritualistic or repetitive compulsions. Often, people associate OCD with behaviors like meticulous cleaning or organizing and use the term incorrectly to refer to all slightly pronounced forms of those behaviors. However, to be categorized as OCD, compulsive experiences must consume more than an hour of time a day or cause significant distress.

Furthermore, symptoms cover a wider range than those commonly associated with the disorder. Some repetitious behaviors are subtle, such as clenching certain muscle groups or rhythmic breathing. And there are variants of OCD that are characterized not by physical behaviors but by persistent and unwanted thoughts, like obsessive thoughts about hygiene, sex, death, or self-harm. Some people go undiagnosed for years because they do not know OCD can be a thought-based condition.

Anxiety can cause damage via teeth grinding.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism is a condition that is often triggered by anxiety. Stress, whether from casual anxiety or a disorder, frequently leads to muscle tension, which can include the act of clenching or repeatedly adjusting the jaw and grinding the teeth.

Some cases of clenching or grinding happen during waking hours, but, more commonly, teeth grinding occurs during sleep, especially when sleep is fitful or disrupted.

Over time, any amount of grinding does damage to the teeth, wearing down the enamel. Grinding can even create cracks or chips in the teeth. Additionally, the pressure from clenching harms the gums by causing inflation and increasing the chances of infection and gum disease.

So, anxiety and teeth grinding easily go hand-in-hand, which means if you recognize signs of one you should keep an eye out for indications of the other.

What can you do to lessen anxiety?

If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, it is important to seek professional help. Therapists can teach you techniques for managing your condition and making it easier to live with.

If you simply feel stressed at the moment, experiment with relaxation tools that might work for: breathing exercises, mediation, physical stretching, or movement. And create a restful bedtime routine to improve your sleep.

Can I cure teeth grinding or anxiety?

Neither teeth grinding nor anxiety are conditions with specific cures, but both can be greatly improved with attention and care.

To protect your teeth from the effects of grinding, you should invest in a night guard (also called a mouth guard). It is a plastic guard that you’ll wear over your teeth at night to prevent wear and tear. It is best to choose a custom-made night guard (molded specifically for your teeth) so that you get the best fit and greatest comfort.

For your convenience, you can order one at TeethNightGuard, take your own impression without having to visit a dentist, and receive your night guard in the mail.

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