Stress, dentistry and awareness

March 1, 2012

Dental, Stress

Believe it or not, the ongoing troubles of the world can be seen playing out in the mouths of an ever-increasing number of people who are grinding or gnashing their teeth.

by Dr. Nicholas Meyer — 

Believe it or not, the ongoing troubles of the world can be seen playing out in the mouths of an ever-increasing number of people who are grinding or gnashing their teeth. Young and old alike are subject to higher levels of stress these days and, as a result, many are losing a sense of control in their lives.

So what is one to do? You cannot just unplug from the world and become instantly stress-free. I believe that awareness about bad habits is the first step in healthy self-help and will go a long way to mitigate the destruction that can occur because of it.

I regularly see people who clench and grind their teeth every day. Most of them are not aware that they do it. To begin to address the problem, I ask them first to look at their daily activities and pay attention to when they grind. Most always, at a subsequent visit, the common refrain is, “I had no idea I ground my teeth so much.”

So then what? I offer a substitute behavior that will, in time, become a new way of being. It is a simple four-line rhyme:

Lips together,

Teeth apart,

From this rule,

I will not depart.

This must be accompanied by keeping the tongue housed in the roof of the mouth — its tip right behind the two front teeth. This simple step is a powerful tool to help break the habit.

While sleeping, a fitted oral device may be needed. Many people will try over-the-counter devices. Some will have good luck, while others not so much. A custom-fitted device is usually the best way to go. So good luck and remember, with the right plan for correction, this too shall pass.

 

Nicholas Meyer, D.D.S., D.N.M., is a general dentist in Scottsdale, Ariz., who has a special interest in developmental disturbances of the facial complex that contribute to such maladies as TMJ, snoring and sleep apnea. www.milldental.com, DrMeyer@milldental.com or 480-948-0560.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2012.

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