"Grieving the loss of a child is a process, it begins the day your child passes and ends the day the parent joins them."
BJKarrer

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bruxism and Stress..

..go hand in hand...or teeth to teeth! Who knew? ! We didn't, that's for sure. Not until Ashleigh started having problems with her teeth hurting over the past couple of months. She has gone back and forth to the dentist, who filled a couple of teeth because the dentist, "thought" that was Ashleigh's problem. Back and forth a few more times, and then the dentist wasn't so sure. It was decided that Ashleigh clenched her teeth.

Ashleigh was fitted for a very expensive mouth guard device to where while she sleeps. However, her teeth began to bother her even more - in between the ordering of the mouth piece. So, I sent her to another dentist. Thought just maybe she needed a second opinion. The new dentist told Ashleigh that he really thinks the problems that she is having with her teeth are in fact, Bruxism (clenching-grinding). Ashleigh was asked if she had been under any kind of stress. And we all know the answer to that question was, "yes!" Ashleigh explained to him what the source of her stress was; the past 10+ months of losing her sister. BINGO! The answer to her problematic teeth clenching-grinding is STRESS! My words were, "it figures", after finding this info out.

Apparently, stress wreaks more havoc on a body than even we thought possible. Not only does stress cause your nerves to be on a constant edge and your blood pressure to go up at the drop of a hat and mood swings that you endure on a daily basis, sleepless nights and body aches/pains, anxiety attacks, etc, etc, etc...BUT...stress also causes a person to clench their teeth! The medical term for teeth clenching and grinding is, Bruxism.

The new dentist explained to Asheigh how clenching/Bruxism works. He told her that likely she is doing mostly grinding during night time, as she sleeps, but that a person under a tremendous amount of stress each day, will clench without even realizing that they are doing it, throughout the entire day time. Which we have since discovered, we are all doing. Did you know, that at no time during the day or night for that matter, your teeth are never suppose to touch..top to bottom? We didn't!

Now that we know this information, we are all realizing that we are clenching our teeth. Paul is now starting to have trouble with his jaws hurting. He has realized that he too, has been clenching during the day and he's been doing it a lot...he doesn't clench/grind at night while sleeping because he SNORES LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN! I have found that I am clenching my teeth throughout my days as well. Now that Ashleigh's new dentist made us aware of the fact that stress and clenching go hand in hand..we are all guilty of doing it. Brad has been doing it too, but he snore at night so we only assume he's not clenching/grinding while sleeping.

One may not think this is a huge deal, but it is. Or at least it can be.

Bruxism may lead to:
  • Damage to your teeth (including restorations and crowns) or jaw
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Temporomandibular disorders — which occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears and felt when opening and closing your mouth
Causes:
  • Anxiety, stress or tension
  • Suppressed anger or frustration
  • Aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type- not us
  • Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion)- we don't have this
  • Changes that occur during sleep cycles-possibly for us
  • Response to pain from an earache or teething (in children)
  • Growth and development of the jaws and teeth (for children)
  • Complication resulting from a disorder, such as Huntington's disease or Parkinson's disease- not us
  • An uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, including certain antidepressants.- nothing we are taking causes these symptoms
Signs and symptoms of Bruxism may include:
  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to awaken your sleep partner
  • Teeth that are worn down, flattened, fractured or chipped
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth-yep
  • Increased tooth sensitivity- yep
  • Jaw pain or tightness in your jaw muscles- yep
  • Enlarged jaw muscles
  • Earache — because of severe jaw muscle contractions, not a problem with your ear- we're having ear problems (not my chronic inner ear infection tho)
  • Headache- could be the cause of some of our headaches
  • Chronic facial pain
  • Chewed tissue on the inside of your cheek- yep
  • Indentations on your tongue
Treatments and drug:

More often than not, cases of Bruxism correct themselves and no treatment is necessary. Especially in kids, they outgrow it..most of the time. However, the problem can be severe and if so, treatment options medications and even therapies will be needed.

Therapies

  • Stress management. If you grind your teeth because of stress, you may be able to prevent the problem with professional counseling or strategies that promote relaxation, such as exercise and meditation.
  • Dental approaches. your doctor may suggest a mouth guard or protective dental appliance (splint) to prevent damage to the teeth.

    Splints are usually constructed of hard acrylic and fit over your upper or lower teeth. Some dentists may make them right in the office, while others may send them to a laboratory to be made.

    Mouth guards are available over the counter and from your dentist. Your dentist can make a custom mouth guard to fit your mouth. Mouth guards are less expensive than splints, but they generally don't fit well and can dislodge during teeth grinding.

    Correcting misaligned teeth may help if your Bruxism seems to be associated with dental problems. In severe cases — when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly (this is starting to happen with Paul, Ashleigh of course has this problem now — the dentist may need to use overlays or crowns to entirely reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Reconstructive treatment can be quite extensive and though it will correct the wear, it may not stop the Bruxism.

  • Behavior therapy. For anyone who thinks they doing the clenching thing, this is a nice little tid bit of info. Once you discover that you have Bruxism, you may be able to change the behavior by practicing proper mouth and jaw position. Concentrate on resting your tongue upward with your teeth apart and your lips closed. This should keep your teeth from grinding and your jaw from clenching-at least while your awake.

Medications
Medications aren't very effective for treatment of Bruxism. In some cases, your doctor may suggest taking a muscle relaxant before bedtime. Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections may help some people with severe Bruxism who haven't responded to other treatments.

Self-care steps may prevent or help treat Bruxism:
  • Reduce stress. HA! Right! Listen to music, taking a warm bath or exercising can help relax you and may reduce your risk of developing Bruxism. Yeah, like that's possible in our house! NOT!!
So once again, we've had a ton of information thrown our way. Information we would NOT need if our sweet girl were still here with us today. We learn that stress can cause some major troubles. We know the mental and physical end of stress. We even know that stress can cause your health to go down the gutter, but we sure never in a million years could have guessed that the clenching of teeth was a sure fire sign of some major stress going on in a persons life.

After learning of Bruxism, I've been doing a lot of research on it. I found a ton of information from the Mayo Clinic (online of course). Like I said before, we never knew that clenching and grinding teeth were another sign of stress. It's amazing what stress can do to a person. From head to toe. Inside and out. Physically and mentally. Stress is like a poison. I would advise that you avoid it at all costs.

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4 comments:

Aimee said...

Yup! Poor Aaron was grinding his teeth so bad after my aneurysm that he could hardly eat/talk because of jaw pain. Splint helped a lot.

Cindy said...

Bruxism is no joke. About 12 years ago, right after my oldest 2 moved out (against my wishes but anyway) I woke with my jaw dislocated. Couldn't open it more than about 1/4 of the way, and when it closed it hurt like hell. It took 2 dentist/specialists and a VERY expensive realigning bite guard, several TENS unit applications to my jaw and finally a huge novocaine injection and the docs knee in my chest to get it back into place. Took 4 months. Wear the guard!!

Michelle said...

A few years ago I was dx w/bruxism too. The dentist told me to pay attention during the day and at night as I'm falling asleep/waking up. Sure enough - during the day and night I found myself clenching my teeth without even realizing it. I also remember when he told me that teeth aren't supposed to touch and I thought, oh really?! I never realized that before! Last year when we moved to MD after Joe deployed I somehow got in the habit of NOT wearing my mouth guard ... and haven't put it back in since. I know I'm still clenching though, so thanks for the reminder that I need to start wearing that again!

Thomas DeFinnis said...

Stress really does a lot to people. Bruxism or teeth grinding are one of them. Thank you so much for this information as I believe this would be very helpful, especially to those who are also experiencing similar problems. :)

Thomas DeFinnis