If you wish to avoid contemplating the pandemic — and who could blame you? — this is not the story for you. Yes, you may have clicked as a result of your jaw clenching or teeth grinding. Or perhaps you're simply curious and want to learn more about what's going on in your mouth. In any case, stress plays a significant role in both of these issues, and — you guessed it — studies have shown that the COVID-19 pandemic increased stress levels for many people.
The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing conditions of grinding and clenching. Everyone was anxious, stressed, and clenched their fists more during the pandemic.
How do you know whether you clench or grind your teeth?
While they frequently coexist, not everyone who clenches their jaw also grinds their teeth, and vice versa. To begin, there are some readily apparent indicators of how your jaw moves. Grinding frequently results in changes to the shape and colour of the teeth.
The most common sign of a grinder is that the back teeth have been ground down to the point of wearing away the enamel. The enamel is translucent or white, while the dentin, the second layer of tooth structure, is a yellowish-brown colour. Individuals who grind their teeth severely wear down the enamel, and the discoloration can be seen on the tooth's surface. They've eroded the enamel to expose the yellow/brown dentin beneath.
Additionally, the shape of your teeth may indicate that you grind. Instead of the tooth appearing round or curved, the grinding motion flattens it and, in some cases, even shortens it. Individuals who grind and clench their teeth have extremely flat teeth. Teeth are supposed to work in the same way as a lock and key do. Patients who grind their teeth typically have them extremely flattened, and they're also significantly shorter in the front — you can see them getting significantly shorter, and there are small chips.
Huang also notes that patients who clench their jaws and grind their teeth almost always develop microscopic craze lines — the industry term for vertical cracks in the enamel of the tooth. Microfracture produces these craze lines. It may be fine for 10 to 15 years, but if you bite on something in the wrong place at the wrong time, the tooth may crack or split.
If you clench your jaw, this could be a sign of an overactive masseter muscle, which can alter the shape of your face. Patients who clench excessively due to an overactive muscle have a squarish face. On the face, the muscle can be seen growing in size over time. It's as if you've been standing on tiptoes all night, and the exercise will cause your calf muscles to become more prominent and grow over time.
A lesser-known issue is the damage that grinding and clenching can do to the gums. Gum lines can recede as a result of grinding and clenching. This is because the tooth's neck is the thinnest part. As a result, it absorbs the majority of the stress generated by the recession's pressure. Many patients believe that bleeding gums or gum sensitivity are the result of excessive brushing, when in fact they are the result of clenching and grinding.
Another indication that you're grinding? Tooth sensitivity. Individuals who are unaware they grind their teeth frequently present to us, particularly during emergencies, claiming extreme sensitivity to cold and sweets on their teeth. Additionally, they believe they have a cavity. However, it is because the clenching and grinding have irritated the nerves surrounding the teeth, making them extremely sensitive to cold or sweet substances.
Finally, if you frequently experience headaches, consult your dermatologist; this may be a sign that you are clenching or grinding your teeth.
Common Causes of Clenching and Grinding
It is critical to consult a dentist to ascertain the underlying cause of your clenching or grinding, which may be overactive muscles, stress, an unstable bite, or even sleep apnea.
If someone has an extremely square face and we examine their mouth and notice that their front teeth are intact but their back teeth are worn, the cause is likely overactive muscles, which can be caused by stress. They will begin with an oral physical therapy technique that incorporates warm compresses and muscle relaxation. If that does not work, the next step is to use muscle relaxants or even Botox in Mumbai to force the muscle to decompress. Although this is a temporary solution, it prevents the muscles from firing.
Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding Treatment
Returning to the subject of stress, many cases of grinding and clenching are the result of uncontrollable anxiety or nervousness. Your temperament and personality play a role in this. You can be hypnotised, undergo psychotherapy, or simply drink warm milk before bed — but if you are a grinder, you will grind.
Consider administering a low-dose Botox injection to your jawline.
Botox is a well-known treatment for teeth grinding and clenching. You may have heard of TMJ injections, but this is a misnomer. TMDs are conditions that affect the jaw muscles and the temporomandibular joint (or TMJ). Not all clenching and grinding are indicative of TMD.
Dermatologists can administer masseter injections. They require precision and extensive experience to avoid problems with chewing or smiling. Patients enjoy these injections because they not only alleviate clenching, but also contour the jawline. However, it's critical to keep in mind that overdosing on these injections can result in complications down the road.
I prefer to be extremely conservative with Botox treatment in Mumbai because you are affecting these muscles and preventing them from functioning as they should. We are discussing minuscule doses administered three times a year. When performed properly and under supervision, there is little cause for alarm. However, as with any other part of the body, if you overdo it and use too much or too frequently, you can cause muscle atrophy in the face.
These injections, like Botox in other areas of the face, take time to take effect, which means you will not see results immediately. When it comes to the masseter muscle, I typically advise my patients that full improvement will take two to three weeks. Having said that, it generally lasts slightly longer in other areas than Botox. If they wish to retain it, I will request that they visit twice a year, depending on their needs.
I recommend beginning injections slowly by requesting fewer units than usual, scheduling a follow-up to assess progress, and inquiring about your dermatologist's frequency and duration of injections.
Published by Dr Niketa Sonavane