Clenching and grinding your teeth is a harmful and unhealthy habit to form. Unfortunately most people don’t even know they do it. Most teeth grinders do so in their sleep so they have no idea it’s happening. The result of clenching and grinding can cause serious damage to your teeth along with other symptoms. We’d like to show you how to stop grinding your teeth.
The medical term for teeth grinding is Bruxism. While most doctors believed teeth grinding occurred from uneven teeth or jaw, the main reason someone may grind their teeth is stress. Though uneven bite can cause bruxism, stress is far more likely. When the body is over-stressed, it cause muscles to contract and tighten unconsciously. In the case of bruxism, when a person becomes stressed, they will begin to clench their teeth harder and harder until grinding occurs.
Bruxism is a tough condition to self-diagnose as you mostly do it while asleep. It’s like trying to find out if you snore. However, there are a few telling signs that can lead you to the assumption that you grind your teeth:
When you fist wake up, do you have a dull yet constant headache? Does your jaw hurt as well? Are your teeth more sensitive in the morning when you’re brushing? Do you notice your gums are more inflamed in the morning or do you have wounds and swelling on the inside of the cheeks? If you answered yes to most of these, you may grind your teeth.
The leading cause of bruxism is stress, so if you find yourself grinding your teeth, or have a loved one that has heard you grinding your teeth (it’s an awful sound), it may be stress coming from other areas of your life. The best way to keep from grinding your teeth then is to reduce stress in your life:
- Start by eliminating any source of stress that you can control. If you have a pesky roommate, or the sound of a TV blaring is making you crazy, get rid of those things.
- Get on a regular sleep schedule that has you going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday. Your body craves that routine. The more it knows when sleep time occurs, the more time it has to restore the energy you need for the day.
- Exercise regularly. It’s known that exercise can drastically reduce stress levels in a person’s body. Try working out at least every other day.
- Have fun with friends and family. Take time to spend with others that is meant to unwind and let loose.
- Eat Healthy. Make sure to eat well-balanced meals throughout the day and avoiding junk food. This will help you feel balanced and make your stomach less irritable at night.
There are plenty of other methods to help someone relieve stress. If you’re having a hard time finding what can help you, consult your physician who may have specific requests and suggestions.
Other methods that can help stop bruxism include:
- Reduce your caffeine intake. The stimulant is really good at making muscles clench and jitter. Avoid coffee, sodas, and energy drinks especially at night.
- Don’t chew on non-food stuff. Avoid biting down on a pen or the back of a pencil while at work. When your body uses biting as a stress reliever, it trains the jaw to clench down anytime you feel stress. If the habit forms and you don’t have a pen or your nails to bite on, that’s when teeth grinding starts.
- Stick your tongue between your teeth. That might sound odd, but you need to train your jaw not to clench down. This is a great way to do that as no one likes biting their own tongue.
Last, before you hit the hay, make sure to relax as much as possible. Try listening to soothing music before bed and having a warm cup of non-caffeinated tea. Also, use a warm washcloth and place it against your cheek just in front of the earlobe. The warm sensation helps relax the jaw and its muscles.
If these methods do not work, it’s time to see a dental professional. Though most bruxism comes from stress, there are cases that are caused by uneven and crowded teeth. At Water Tower Dental we have a solid team of dentists and hygienists to help fix these issues. Water Tower Dental uses a low-frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation, or TENS unit, to relax the jaw muscle and find the ideal positioning. From that, we can locate the specific areas of the mouth that may cause bruxism, or if it is, in fact, stress induced. After which, we can make the proper adjustments using therapy options or by recommending a mouth guard along with further practices to reduce your teeth grinding. If you have any more questions or concerns with your own teeth, contact Water Tower Dental today, we’d be happy to help.