Approximately 70% of people affected with bruxism also suffer from stress or an anxiety disorder. If you have an anxiety disorder, the damage that bruxism causes can be more severe because, without treatment, anxiety disorders are difficult to overcome. During this time, bruxism can significantly take a toll on your oral health:
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
The term "anxiety disorder" refers to a group of mental illnesses with underlying, exaggerated anxiety at the center of the disorder. Psychiatrists recognize several individual anxiety disorders, but you can suffer from more than one type.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: If you suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, you are more vulnerable to stress and worry. You are unable to relax, move past the anxious feelings, and make decisions. Beyond normal worry, your anxiety interferes with your daily life.
- Panic Disorder: If you suffer from panic disorder, you experience sudden and overwhelming panic attacks that can be paralyzing. Women are more likely to suffer from panic disorder than men.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Also known as PTSD, this disorder originates out of a traumatic event, like sexual abuse or combat exposure. If you suffer from PTSD, certain situations can trigger a re-living of the trauma, and you might find yourself often feeling "on edge."
- Social Anxiety Disorder: If you social situations terrify you, you might have social anxiety disorder. People diagnosed with social anxiety disorder are not shy or introverted, but unreasonably afraid of being humiliated or judged.
Why are Anxiety Disorders and Bruxism Linked?
Bruxism usually occurs without you noticing. You subconsciously grind your teeth and clench your jaws, often in your sleep. Because you are unaware of your grinding and clenching, you could do significant damage to your teeth, gums, and jaws before you even realize you have this condition.
If you are experiencing a high-stress time in your life, like a new job or divorce, you are more likely to grind and clench your teeth. Bruxism is your body's subconscious way of relieving internal stress.
If you have an anxiety disorder, however, increased stress is a part of your life. Your anxiety disorder will not go away after the passing of a stressful event. As a result, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you are more likely to grind and clench your teeth more frequently. Thus, your bruxism is more likely to cause long-lasting oral damage.
Severe bruxism can result in fractured and lost teeth, but even lesser consequences of this condition put your oral health at risk. Tooth wear and enamel loss are also side effects of bruxism. Only a dentist can repair the damage caused by excessive grinding and clenching.
If you truly want to overcome bruxism, you need to address the root of the problem: your anxiety disorder. With the assistance of a mental health professional, you can manage your anxiety disorder symptoms. As a result, your subconscious will rely less on bruxism to release internal stress and anxious energy.
To learn more, contact a company like Londonderry Dental Centre II with any questions you have.