Clenching Teeth: c-PTSD or Anxiety?

Deanna

MyPTSD Pro
I constantly catch myself clenching my teeth. Does anyone else do this, or is it just another quirk I’m beginning to notice?
Could be TMJ too. I'd get a checkup at your dentist office. You can grind your teeth down to the nerves and have to get a crown. You might need a nightguard. I did all the above and I have a mouth full of crowns. No one ever told me I needed a nightguard for sleeping. Well, another dentist did and I got one. Check with your dentist ( seriously)
 

Friday

Moderator
It’s a common manifestation of anxiety or stress... same as clenched neck muscles, shoulders, arms, legs, etc.

It’s also common amongst a double handful of other things, some PTSD related. Some not. Some in between. (Like it’s a common side effect of many meds... that one may be taking for dealing with PTSD symptoms).

You might find it useful to track WHEN you notice yourself clenching your jaw, or grinding your teeth, to see if there’s a pattern.
 

Elsewhere

Learning
Bruxism. Yes. I’ve done it for years. Mostly in my sleep. I’ve done lots of damage, not just in terms of enamel erosion, but also in terms of losing bone in my jaw and even losing a tooth due to resorption following the excessive load I’ve unconsciously been subjecting my teeth to. It’s been a devil of a problem for me. In my case, I think of it as a manifestation of hyperarousal (and therefore possibly PTSD-related). Not sure how common it is among us, but looks like we’re not alone

Mouth guards cause me to clench more (I’ve tried several types over the years, and my sleeping mouth seems to always “think” that they’re supposed to be bitten down on—maybe reflexively assuming they’re food?), so I’ve been working on the following lifestyle changes, instead:

-no caffeine, sugar, or alcohol too close to bedtime
-no vigorous exercise too close to bedtime
-massage jaw muscles before bed
-sometimes I’ll do a soak in Epsom salt
-I also do what I can to encourage more restful sleep, such as taking certain supplements, reducing blue-light exposure, and doing other wind-down stuff at night
 

Rani G2

MyPTSD Pro
Yes severe clenching at nights, broke two mouth guards and teeth.. daily headaches and neck pain. That was about 4 years ago..

Had to practice TRE excercises, then physical activities like stretching, muscle building ect.. then Yoga..
No mouth guard needed, No headaches and pain. If I stop for a couple of days it comes back..
 

WonderWriter

Confident
Thank you, All. After reading the comments, it may be a combination of PTSD and Adderall - mostly the Adderall I bet 😞 But, I notice it most when grounding after my brain has “gone on vacation.”
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
When I notice I am doing it, I put those little round stickers sold at office stores to color code things in places where I will see them (rear view, door knob, toilet handle, kitchen cupboards etc.) and ask myself if I am clenched when I see them. If the answer is yes, what is causing it? I agree with Friday, many of the meds I have been on caused it and it went away after they were cleared. It is very hard to be aware of it when it is happening, until you yawn and pull those muscles until they hurt usually.

Reconstruct the changes that took place before you noticed it. Ask yourself if it was something you were even aware of before it made you notice it.

hope this helps, best to ya
 

siniang

MyPTSD Pro
Wait, meds can cause it, too? Those that are supposed to help you with symptoms/disorders that (can) cause the clenching in the first place?

As in ... you're damned if you don't, you're damned if you do?

I have a constantly locked jaw. Permanently. Not just in sleep. I think I grind in sleep, but not as much. Mostly just a really terribly clenched jaw. That causes a terribly tense neck/shoulder/upper back which both cause headaches ...

Which for me is definitely anxiety- and stress-caused because it predates any med trials.

I tried an over-the-counter guard a few years ago and wasn't comfortable with that. I don't particularly like having things in my mouth and it promotes biting/chewing on them (basically, fidgeting, which I'm prone to ... despite not liking "permanent" or semi-permanent things - my braces years were the horror - I'm actually quite a "mouthy" person, I've always chewed on everything) or even more clenching (just as what @Elsewhere described, with a mouthguard I clench even harder).

I'm open to suggestions because I suspect it's part (though quite obviously not the only) reason for my terrible, non-refreshing sleep. All the self-care recommendations and winding down before sleep yadah don't do anything, tried. Especially since it's also happening during the day and more times than not I just really don't even notice. Ever.

Like the sticker idea @enough

Not a solution for sleep, but I've been considering chewing gum. Haven't gotten myself to it yet because, yah, stuff in mouth, ... but keeping the mouth busy doing something would at least prevent clenching. (snacking for similar reasons...but just really not as healthy)
 
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Deanna

MyPTSD Pro
Not a solution for sleep, but I've been considering chewing gum. Haven't gotten myself to it yet because, yah, stuff in mouth, ... but keeping the mouth busy doing something would at least prevent clenching. (snacking for similar reasons...but just really not as healthy
I chew gum quite a bit. In my early 30's is when I got a mouthful of crowns. ( before meds and PTSD diagnoses) I had literally ground them down to the nerves. More than grinding.. Sounded like loud cracking.. said husband at the time.
 
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Elsewhere

Learning
(just as what @Elsewhere described, with a mouthguard I clench even harder).
I’m sorry you’ve had the same experience, @siniang, but I’m glad you shared. It’s validating...

I‘ve been to probably >10 dental professionals of various flavors in the past 15 years and they have always push, push, pushed the mouth guards on me. When I tell them (often repeatedly across successive appointments), that mouth guards exacerbate my clenching, they always act like I’m lying (presumably because they figure I just don’t like having to wear them, or don’t want to shell out the cash). I keep trying to explain that it triggers a reflexive response that leads to more pressure, but they pooh-pooh that. Why would that be so hard to believe? Grr
 
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