There are a few issues that may take place within the mouth or jaw during many forms of intense competition or activity, and one of these is known as clenching. Most common in the jaw itself, and often referred to as "jaw clenching" in many circles, clenching can be problematic for a few reasons, both short-term and long-term.
At Damage Control Mouthguards, we're here to provide the single most important tool to avoid the negative results of clenching during activity: Quality mouthguards, including our custom-fit mouthguards for football, boxing, MMA and many others. What exactly is clenching in the jaw and mouth, what are the risks that come with it, and how do mouthguards help prevent these risks from taking place? Here's a primer across this two-part blog series.
What is Clenching?
Firstly, let's define what clenching actually is. Clenching refers to the tightening of the jaw muscles, which in turn puts pressure on the teeth. This can happen both during and after physical activity, and it's often the result of stress or anxiety related to the activity itself.
It can also be a conditioned response to certain activities; for instance, many boxers and MMA fighters will clench their teeth during a match as a result of the adrenaline coursing through their system. This can even happen during more low-key activities like running or playing tennis.
Clenching can also take place when we're not active, such as when we're asleep (which is actually quite common). However, the clenching that takes place during physical activity is often more intense and prolonged, which can lead to some serious risks and side effects.
What Are the Risks of Clenching?
There are a few risks that come along with jaw clenching, both in the short term and long term. These risks include:
Jaw pain: This is perhaps the most immediate and noticeable risk of clenching. When the jaw muscles are tight, they can cause immense pain in both the jaw itself and in the temples. This can make it difficult to open or close the mouth, and can even lead to headaches.
Tooth sensitivity: Clenching can also put a lot of pressure on the teeth, which can lead to increased sensitivity. This is because the pressure can cause the tooth enamel to wear down, exposing the more sensitive layers beneath.
Increased risk of injury: Clenching can also put you at a higher risk of sustaining an injury during activity. This is because clenching can cause problems with balance and coordination, as well as making it more difficult to react to an opponent or situation.
These are just a few of the risks that come along with clenching; in the second part of this series, we'll explore some of the more serious long-term risks that can come from extended periods of clenching. For more on this, or to learn about any of our custom-fit or stock mouthguards, speak to the staff at Damage Control Mouthguards today.