There is no doubt that the pressures of London life can have a significant impact on stress levels. This was substantiated by the findings of a recent survey of 300 Londoners conducted on behalf of Bow Lane Dental, which found that money worries cause the highest stress levels, with commuting and job pressures being the next most frequently cited causes.
Stress can impact on health and wellbeing and manifest itself in a number of physical ways and while a restful night’s sleep is so important for the body and mind, a worrying 43% of Londoners surveyed reported stress-related sleep disturbance.
However the state of the mouth can also be adversely affected by stress, with people experiencing a condition known as bruxism – the dental term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching. The study corroborated that 29% of Londoners recognised that they have teeth grinding or jaw clenching problems, with women significantly more likely than men to experience these issues. Interestingly the proportion of young Londoners reporting grinding and clenching was amongst the highest - it was reported by over a third of 18-24 year olds - making it the largest stress- related condition reported in this age group.
Grinding and clenching not only causes tooth damage, fracturing or wearing down dental enamel which can lead to pain and sensitivity, but can also trigger jaw aching and clicking, headaches, migraines, and sleep problems (as deep sleep is continuously interrupted).
Bow Lane Dental Group is located in the City, and reports that a high proportion of its patients present with stress related oral health issues. According to Dr James Goolnik, the Practice Principal “We have lots of patients who suffer from bruxism and have been successfully treated by us. Based in the City, we have noticed an increase in stress, and people needing help to manage their clenching and grinding especially since Brexit and the weakness of the pound”
Fortunately treating the problem can bring about a resolution of the symptoms. According to Dr Goolnik it is possible to ameliorate all of these stress-related conditions with a tailor-made bite splint. “Impressions of the mouth are taken and a custom made device is fitted in the practice – so it is ‘bespoke’ compared with buying an off the peg version. As a result the bite splint fits more snugly, is more comfortable and is more effective as it fits properly. It is predominantly worn at night when grinding is most severe.” Dr Goolnik added “The material of a custom-made bite splint is also more durable than cheap off-the- shelf products which are fabricated from thinner plastics which don’t last and can be bitten through!”
Dr Goolnik relates the experience of one of his patients “Christina Schwab has been wearing her splint for the past year and now cannot sleep without it. She used to suffer from chronic migraines, especially on waking up and very tight jaw muscles. They have now all disappeared.”
1 Gorkana Survey for Bow Lane Dental Group. Survey conducted amongst 300 Londoners during October 2016. Representative samples drawn from North, South, East, West, Central and City, of both genders, across all ages and socio economic groups.
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