Managing Wellness

Bruxism and Stress: How to Protect Your Teeth

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Posted by July 25, 2016

Did you know that nearly 70 percent of bruxism cases are caused by stress or anxiety? This dental disorder is characterized by clenching and grinding the teeth, and it can cause serious problems for your teeth and overall health. A recent survey found that 65 percent of Americans consider work to be a top source of stress, and as an employer, you can play an important role in helping your employees manage work-related stress.

How Does Bruxism Damage Teeth?

The forces associated with clenching and grinding can be very damaging to your teeth. Clenching can chip or break teeth, and it can even lead to loose teeth. Grinding can wear down the tooth enamel, giving the affected teeth a flattened appearance. Worn-down teeth may also become sensitive. Repairing this damage requires dental treatment, contributing to the 164 million hours of work that are lost due to oral health problems and dental visits every year.

What Other Problems Can Bruxism Cause?

This condition doesn’t just damage your teeth; it can also affect your overall health. Prolonged clenching and grinding can lead to aching pain in the jaw and facial muscles and earaches. Bruxism sufferers are also three times more likely to get headaches than non-grinders, and these headaches also can lead to lost work days.

Clenching and grinding can also affect your employees’ normal sleep routine, and partial sleep deprivation can have a major effect on their moods. They may become irritable, short-tempered and more stressed, and these mood changes can lead to poor work performance or potential conflict with their colleagues.

How Is Bruxism Treated?

Dentists can create a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect the teeth from damage. These mouthguards aren’t an all-out cure for clenching and grinding, but they can help prevent problems such as cracked or broken teeth. Dealing with the root cause of the problem—stress—is also crucial.

How Can You Help Employees Manage Stress?

To help your employees manage their stress, encourage them to take time off. It’s been found that many employees don’t take all of their vacation days each year, and this can contribute not only to stress but also to poor job performance and low morale.

Many employees may also feel stressed by the perceived expectation to be available 24 hours a day. In many roles, there is no need to check emails in the evenings, so if appropriate, remind your employees that you don’t expect them to respond to emails outside working hours.

Some employees may also have unique stressors, so talk to them individually to find out what their concerns are. For example, one employee might feel stressed because their work isn’t challenging enough, while another could feel stressed because they don’t have the necessary resources to do their job effectively. By attempting to address these concerns—and find a solution to them—you can help your employees manage their stress.

Clenching and grinding can affect your employees’ dental and overall health as well as your bottom line, so keeping workplace stress under control is incredibly important. Make sure to take steps to reduce stress among your employees to keep your workforce and your company healthy.

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