7 Ways to Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Grinding of the teeth, also referred to as bruxism, can have far-reaching consequences for your dental health. While it is natural to occasionally clench your teeth, sustained grinding can cause damage and produce symptoms that impact you throughout the day.
Many people do not even realize they grind their teeth because they do it at night while they sleep. Symptoms of bruxism include headaches and a sore jaw. People may mention that they hear you grind your teeth at night too. Continue reading to learn how to stop grinding teeth both in the daytime and at night.
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth
There are several approaches to end daytime and nighttime tooth grinding. Here are seven you could try today to experience some relief.
1. Get a Nighttime Mouth Guard
Constant grinding can wear down the enamel on your teeth and make them more vulnerable to cavities. Fortunately, sleeping with a mouth guard will protect your teeth. Our dentist can fit you for a custom mouth guard that will keep your teeth safe throughout the night. A custom-made guard will be more comfortable than any you can buy at the store, which is one-size-fits-all and may not fit as snugly. Consistently wearing a mouth guard overnight is one of the best ways to combat sleep bruxism.
2. Start Exercising
If you do not exercise, add a few sweat sessions to your weekly routine. Bruxism often results from stress, with tension manifesting in your tooth grinding. Exercise will give you a release from that stress.
3. Relax Right Before Bed
All the tension sitting in your jaw needs to unwind before you go to bed. Try relaxing techniques, such as one or more of the following:
- Take a warm bath before bed to relax your jaw muscle.
- Apply a heating pad or warm, wet towel to your jaw.
- Drink herbal, caffeine-free tea to warm up your mouth.
4. Massage Your Jaw Muscles
Can you feel your jaw clenching up throughout the day when confronting a stressful situation? If so, relax your face and give your jaw muscles a massage. Rubbing will release the tension that has built up throughout the day.
5. Become More Conscious of Your Clenching
You may grind your teeth all day and not recognize it. Practice mindfulness several times a day to help you relax and let go of anxiety. You will start noticing specific situations or times of day when your teeth grinding gets more pronounced. When you recognize it occurring, stop it by dropping your jaw and letting it hang for a moment. Move it gently, then try to maintain a more relaxed jaw position.
6. Stop Chewing Everything but Food
Do you chomp on gum all day? Love chewing ice while you work? Even if your favorite vice is chewing a pen cap, you need to stop these repetitive motions, which will keep your jaw clenched.
7. Avoid Chewy Foods
Say goodbye to steak, popcorn and taffy on days when your bruxism has flared up. These foods require lots of chewing and will further wear out your jaw.
Side Effects and Complications of Teeth Grinding
It may seem like teeth grinding only leads to momentary discomfort, but it can contribute to some severe, noticeable side effects. Letting your bruxism continue can cause other ailments to arise a few months from now or several years down the road. Here are some of the complications you could experience as a result of bruxism.
- Misshapen teeth: Bruxism can flatten, fracture or chip your teeth. This condition can affect your smile and even change how your teeth feel in your mouth. In some situations, your teeth can start getting loose.
- Worn tooth enamel: Constant grinding will wear away your tooth enamel. Your enamel is vital to your dental health, and damaging it can expose the deeper layers of your teeth to various risks, including cavities.
- Increased sensitivity or pain: As your enamel wears away, you can become more susceptible to tooth pain and sensitivity. Hot or cold temperatures can be uncomfortable on your teeth, and you may experience sharp pains in your most worn-down teeth.
- Tired jaw muscles: The more you clench your jaw, the more tired your jaw muscles will become. You may experience a sense of fatigue in your jaw throughout the day if you suffer from bruxism.
- Pain in other areas: Bruxism can eventually lead to discomfort in other areas of your body, including your neck or face. You could also experience something similar to an earache, but in the area of your jaw in front of your ear, signaling that the bruxism is taking its toll.
- Headaches: The constant tension from bruxism can lead to headaches that begin in your temples and spread to other areas of your head.
- Cheek damage: Constant teeth grinding can also start to involve the inside of your cheeks. You may experience damage to your cheek tissues, leading to pain and even some bleeding.
- Disruption of sleep: In some cases, your bruxism’s intensity can rouse you in your sleep or cause you to experience unrestful sleep. You may feel more tired in the morning or find yourself waking up throughout the night.