OK, I'll say it: I'm a teeth grinder. I actually have no idea what teeth grinding sounds like, but Mr. Cafe Kim assures me it's bad. He wakes me up every few nights alerting me to the fact that I am grinding my teeth and asking if I could please try to stop. (I usually can't.) I feel bad about the noise, but what worries me more is that fact that I'm actually wearing down one of my top front teeth—it's actually shorter than the other one!
According to The New York Times, dentists are seeing an large increase in the number of teeth grinders. In fact, as many as 10 to 15 percent of Americans grind their teeth—and most don't even know it! I probably wouldn't have known it if it weren't for my husband telling me (although that chunk of missing tooth might well have been a clue.) And it's not just the sound that worries dentists: Teeth grinding can cause enamel erosion and fractured teeth, as well as jaw pain, face pain, and headaches.
So why do people grind their teeth? Genetics play a role, sure, but dentists think stress is the main reason behind teeth grinding. And because people are so stressed these days with the down economy, it makes sense that teeth grinding is on the rise. (I don't feel any more stressed out than usual, so this explanation doesn't exactly apply to me, but it's interesting all the same.)
So what can you do about teeth grinding? My dentist recommended against putting veneers on my teeth, because they're expensive and in his opinion, I'll just grind those off, too. (Lovely.)
My other option is to wear a mouth guard at night. I've been holding off, though, because it reminds me too much of wearing headgear in middle school. Other treatments include: acupuncture, medical massage, hypnosis, and Botox. I'm not ready for any of those; in the meantime, I think I'm going to focus on a good old-fashioned teeth-grinding treatment: trying to de-stress before bedtime.
We'll see if that works.
Do you grind your teeth?