Teeth-grinding, or the medical name – bruxism – is a common habit amongst hard-working and stressed Londoners. Around 10% of us do it according to the Bruxism Association, and if you’re aged 25-44 you’re even more prone.
Why is it a problem? As you can imagine the regular pressure can lead to damage to your teeth and (worst case scenario) even breakages. But, more commonly, it gives rise to headache, earache, sleep disturbance, mouth and jaw pain and tight, stiff shoulders. If you have pre-existing neck or shoulder pain, there’s a good chance your teeth-grinding could be exacerbating the issue.
What can I do about it? In one study, 70% of sleep bruxists related their grinding to stress and anxiety… so your first port of call should be attempting to tackle the stress in your life. Exercise, meditation, attention to good diet and quality sleep can all help with this. Night-guards or bite splints (similar to a gum shield) are excellent at breaking the habitual cycle of bruxism – ask your dentist about these. Caffeine, smoking and alcohol should be minimised. And for symptomatic relief, your osteopath can help by treating the overworked muscles in your jaw, neck and shoulders.