Facing Frights & the Daily Grind
Spooky season is upon us. With that comes jump scares and feelings of fright, all just for fun. However, this year has brought challenges with COVID-19, and it’s clear that maneuvering through stressful circumstances can also create muscle tension in our bodies. As a result of nervous feelings that might come about this month, it’s very possible to respond with clenched teeth. Crunching those pearly whites together can be problematic for a variety of reasons and can ultimately cause serious complications such as loose or chipped teeth. The good news is that there are ways to combat troublesome teeth clenching with a little conscious effort. You certainly have the power to turn your oral health around for the better.
Protection For Teeth Clenching
First things first. If you suspect that you’re clenching those teeth, day or night, it’s essential to protect them. Once grinding becomes a habit, it can be difficult to control, which is all the more reason to protect them before problems start. Come talk to us about an occlusal guard that can help protect your teeth while you sleep. While this won’t make stress magically disappear, it will offer peace of mind, tooth protection, and can reduce discomfort as you begin to practice relieving stress.
When Teeth Do the Monster Mash, Reduce Stress!
If you’ve created the habit of grinding due to stress, it can take time and determination to see improvements. Assuming that grinding and stress have been a challenge for you this year, we have tips that can take you into the fall season with a smile on your face.
Think about the last time you entered a messy space. Did it make you relax or tense up? If you’re like most, your muscles probably tensed up quite a bit without you even fully realizing it. Do your best to work, play, and rest in spaces that are cleaned of clutter. Since it is almost Halloween, get yourself excited to redecorate with a fall or Halloween-theme in mind. Make a space that gets you to Cloud 9.
Relax Throughout the Day
Should stress be affecting you currently, it’s possible that you’re feeling some level of stress all day long. When we feel stress, we can unconsciously clench and tighten muscles, including the muscles in our jaw. Set a timer for whatever time you feel is appropriate. Once the timer goes off, this is your cue to remember to loosen any muscles that are tight. Focus on releasing those shoulder, forehead, and jaw muscles. Better yet, imagine a beautiful fall scene. Interrupting moments of tension with relaxation will go a long way.
During your breaks throughout the day, give your mouth a little workout to encourage relaxation. Try puffing out your cheeks like a pufferfish. Doing so will cause you to take deep belly breaths. Oftentimes, our breathing grows shallow when stressed, which gives the body an excuse to tense up. It’s likely we could all benefit from breathing a little more deeply.
Where’s the Tongue?
Focus on where you’re placing your tongue during the day. If it is between your teeth, pushing against your teeth, or resting at the bottom, these positions can be problematic for your mouth over time. Try to keep your tongue gently on the roof of your mouth, a little behind the front teeth with your teeth slightly parted. Keep moving the tongue to this position for as many times as it takes your body to create the new habit.
Give Your Jaw Some Love
Give your jaw special attention before you head to dreamland. The goal is to spend time relaxing muscles to minimize teeth clenching. Before bed, try gently massaging your jaw and pressing a warm cloth to your cheeks. You might also aim to stretch your head, neck, and shoulders. If you’re clenching teeth, it is likely that you’re holding tension in other parts of the body as well. Make sure the whole body feels loose and relaxed. And, if you’re into watching horror movies during October, it may be best to watch them as far from your bedtime as possible. Jason and Freddy won’t be doing your teeth clenching any favors!
Do something every single day that you can look forward to, big or small. Whether times are stressful or not, you deserve to engage in tasks that truly make you happy. Create habits now that will serve you to have a happier and more peaceful mind. Doing so will help you in your journey of defeating grinding for good, get through tough times like COVID-19, and enjoy every season to the fullest.
Although we focused on stress for this blog, teeth clenching can arise for many reasons. Come see us so that we can help identify the cause and find a personalized solution for your situation before bigger oral health problems arise.