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I just started a new finance job a few months ago with a small company. This job is an important career step for me and there is a lot of pressure on me to be successful in this position. I have experienced good success with larger finance companies so far in my career and this is my opportunity to prove myself with a smaller company. I hope to become a partner in the next few years. I feel prepared for my new job and am excited to go to work most days. I do however feel a certain amount of pressure, probably pressure that I mostly put on myself. While most of this isn’t bothering me too much, I have been waking up on most mornings feeling tense in my jaw. After some googling it looks like I might be grinding my teeth at night. While I could pop in a mouthguard before I go to bed at night, that idea seems pretty bizarre to me. Is there anything else I could do to make this go away?
Dear Teeth Grinder,
Congratulations on the new job! This is a big chance for you to prove yourself and your skill, which I have no doubt you will do. It’s also great news that you feel confident and prepared for your new job. Having a belief in your abilities goes a long way and will help you to do the hard work necessary to become the partner you hope to be in a few years. Also, good job on doing some research about your symptoms. It’s amazing what google can tell us these days. It does sound like you are experiencing teeth grinding, also known as bruxism originally introduced as ‘la bruxomanie’ by Marie Pietkiewicz.
As your research found, popping in a mouth guard is one of the primary treatments for bruxism. While wearing a mouthguard is a first step because it can save your teeth, it doesn’t necessarily treat the condition. In addition to your new job, are there any other recent changes in your life? Many factors can contribute to bruxism including long term antidepressant medication use, amphetamine use, and tobacco use. Stress and anxiety are often significant contributors to bruxism and you appear to be under a large amount of work imposed and self-imposed pressure.
I would encourage you to think about finding new ways to deal with the stress you’re feeling.
I would encourage you to think about finding new ways to deal with the stress you’re feeling. Incorporating deep breathing, yoga, or mindfulness exercises into your nighttime routine could be one way to reduce stress before bed and prepare your mind and body for sleep. Specific to bruxism, exercises to stretch and relax your jaw may be helpful. I would consider consulting your dentist to see what recommendations they may offer.
Dear Teeth Grinder,
Grinding at your new gig and grinding your teeth. Sounds pretty common. When I get into stressful situations I develop a repeat gross habit of biting my nails. I don’t even consciously realize I’m doing it, but looking down at my nub nails is typically an indication that I should consider implementing some stress relieving exercises.
Because you have identified that your teeth grinding is stress related, I would recommend exploring ways of reducing the stress which seems to be the causation. What helps you relax? Is it unplugging by watching a movie, going on a run, or spending time with friends? Have you considered relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation?
It’s best to try to find ways to reduce stress now so once you make partner it will be absent from your daily grind.
If you feel that after you’ve implemented these stress relievers the problem still exists, it may be worth looking into a dental treatment such as a mouth guard or bite guard worn at night. Your ambition is awesome! But, I imagine with any upward career movement you will experience new stressors along the way. It’s best to try to find ways to reduce stress now so once you make partner it will be absent from your daily grind.