Bruxism, which is the grinding and clenching of teeth, is a common condition. Ignoring it and failing to combat it could result in damaged enamel, broken teeth, malocclusion, tooth loss, and temporomandibular joint disorder.
Thankfully, there are several ways that you can stop grinding your teeth, and some of them are listed below so you can tackle this problem before it causes severe damage.
Hone in on the Cause of Your Bruxism
There are a few different reasons why you might be grinding your teeth by night, or even clenching your jaw by day. Honing in on the cause of your bruxism will help you figure out the best ways to get relief.
- Believe it or not, drinking a lot of alcohol or caffeine could lead to teeth grinding at night while you sleep. This isn’t the best news if you like to have coffee during the day and end your evening with a nightcap.
- If you smoke or if you have a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, you could be at a greater risk of developing bruxism.
- Depression, anxiety, and general stress can also cause your jaw to tighten and your teeth to grind. As if it doesn’t cause enough problems, stress could even be the reason that you clench your jaw during the day.
- If you have crooked teeth, are a missing a tooth, or you have an abnormal bite, you might find that you wake with signs of teeth grinding, which include a sore jaw or a dull headache. Ouch!
Guard Your Teeth at Night
To stop grinding your teeth at night, experts recommend talking to your dentist, who can provide you with a mouth guard. He or she may suggest a mandibular advancement device, as an example. This could protect the teeth from damage because it will be custom fitted to your unique mouth, and it can bring the bottom jaw forward to help you manage sleep apnea and snoring as well.
Another option might be an occlusal appliance (also known as an occlusal bite guard, bite plate, night guard, bruxism appliance, or occlusal splint). This will also be custom made for your mouth so it will fit perfectly over the bottom or top teeth to reduce jaw pain while protecting your temporomandibular joint and your teeth.
Swap Stress for Relaxation
Is stress, depression, or anxiety causing you to grind your teeth at night? Then behavioral management might be the ideal solution.
Making time during the day for meditation and relaxation may help you release the tension that you take to bed with you at night. Or you can go a step further and get help through hypnosis and psychoanalysis.
Of course, you can combine these efforts with the right nighttime mouth guard to tackle the problem from multiple angles.
Try Some Easy, Everyday Ways to Reduce Tension
In addition to speaking with your dentist, you can also incorporate the following approaches to combating teeth grinding in your everyday life. Keep in mind that taking steps during the day could help prevent problems at night while you sleep.
- Perform some awareness exercises. You can, for example, become more aware of how tense your jaw muscles feel, and then relax them whenever you feel those muscles tensing up. Experts also suggest focusing your attention on where your tongue is resting in your mouth. Simply placing it at the top of your mouth and against the back of the top teeth, or between the teeth, could help prevent grinding, while also helping to relax the jaw.
- Stretch your jaw throughout the day, and massage your jaw, shoulders, and neck to release tension. On top of that, you can even see a physical therapist, who could give you a tailored plan for stretches you can do to normalize your jaw joints and muscles. Or you can see a massage therapist to work on the muscles that affect your jaw, as well as get some much-needed relaxation.
- Hold a warm washcloth to your cheeks at night before bed. This could help to relax the muscles of the jaw, particularly if you place the warmth in front of the earlobes.
- Avoid chewing gum. While chewing sugar-free gum might be good at relieving conditions like dry mouth and helping to keep your mouth clean by increasing saliva production, if you suffer from teeth grinding, you might want to avoid it. When you chew gum, your jaw muscles could become more accustomed to clenching, potentially boosting the risk of bruxism at night. So stick to mints instead.
- Attempt cutting down on your consumption of caffeine and alcohol. It might be tough but it might work, so it’s worth a shot, right?
Keep Those Dental Appointments!
Seeing your dentist regularly is another important step in combating bruxism, as he or she might recognize signs of teeth grinding even if you aren’t aware that you’re clenching your jaw at night. And once bruxism has been diagnosed, your dentist will help you figure out what’s causing it, as well as provide you with a list of treatment options that will work best for you.
Because bruxism can cause so much damage to your teeth and jaw over time, it’s best to consult with your dentist and start the appropriate treatment plan right away. Whether you need to focus on changing your lifestyle or solving a sleep disorder, there are a host of options available to get you relief and keep your smile looking fabulous.