We usually think of stress as the cause of anxiety, headaches, stomach complaints, insomnia, and other symptoms that mirror the tensions of everyday life. But there is one very special symptom that deserves a higher profile: sleep bruxism. Sleep bruxism describes what happens when the day's tensions carry over into the night hours, so that even if we fall asleep with no trouble, tension can cause us to grind our teeth while we sleep.
Although we wake in the morning without the memory of having "bruxed" our teeth during the night, there are long-term consequences: abrasive wear, cracking, loosening and sensitivity of teeth, and growth and pain in the muscles that help us chew our food. Even worse: cracked teeth are vulnerable to infection. When the cracks become infected, they may require root canals to clear up the infection and prevent further damage.
The most effective treatment is to go to the root (pun intended) of the problem: reducing stress by practicing exercise and yoga on a regular basis, and learning and employing stress-reduction techniques, especially before turning in for the night. Your dentist can also prescribe a custom mouth guard to protect your teeth and discourage grinding while you sleep.
So, try relaxing, and learn to be aware of stress so you can nip it in the bud before it goes to your teeth.