The Daily Grind: Teeth Clenching During the Day and What to Do About It

November 25th, 2016

The Daily Grind: Teeth Clenching During the Day and What to Do About ItHave you experienced a tight jaw, impressions on your tongue or a tooth that seemed loose, chipped, or fractured? What about sore facial muscles, increased sensitivity in your teeth, or a partner that complains about clicking noises you make with your mouth? If you said yes to all or most of these, you could be a teeth grinder. Read on to find out why teeth grinding is harmful, what causes it, and what you can do to stop grinding and clenching your teeth during the day.

Why You Should Be Concerned About Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding or clenching, known medically as bruxism, is common in both adults and children. It could result in further teeth sensitivity as grinding wears down your enamel. If bruxism persists, you could end up damaging your teeth and it may require treatments such as root canals, bridges, or even dentures and implants.

Bruxism could also affect your jaw—teeth grinding might cause TMJ or even disfigure your face. You could experience headaches and earaches that you may not immediately associate with bruxism.

Grinding and Clenching—Why Does It Happen During the Day?

While doctors are not entirely sure what causes teeth grinding, common causes include sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or abnormalities in your teeth alignment (malocclusion). Many cases of teeth grinding and clenching happen at night, and can only be detected if your loved one notices it enough to wake him up.

But teeth grinding also happens during the day (daytime bruxism) and it is likely caused by anxiety and emotional stress. If you have daytime bruxism, you don’t necessarily experience nocturnal bruxism as well. Fortunately, there are means to stop bruxism before it wreaks havoc on your teeth.

How to Break the Habit

Try the following tips to help you eliminate teeth grinding during the day:

  • Reduce stress and tension by doing the following:
  • Keep a journal or writing pad handy. When you start to feel stressed out, take a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and feelings. This lets you release emotionally, and you can process it later to identify your stressors.
  • Seek counsel. A trained professional will use different techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy to deal with your stressors and help you cope with emotional situations.
  • Increased physical activity is proven to lower stress. Remember to stay hydrated.
  • Avoid certain food and beverages that may trigger stress, such as caffeinated drinks (coffee, soda, etc.) and alcohol
  • Under more extreme cases, use muscle relaxants as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Avoid chewing gum, the tip of your pen, your pencil eraser, or other objects. Chewing will only encourage teeth grinding during the day.
  • Use a mouth guard. This is especially important if you grind your teeth at night and you’re not aware. But mouth guards can also be helpful during the day if you’re still training your jaw. Daytime mouth guards are not as noticeable as night guards, so it appears discreet and allows you to talk comfortably.
  • Talk to people you regularly interact with. During the night, ask your bed mate to gently wake you up so you can relax and stop grinding your teeth. During the day, ask people to help remind you not to grind or clench. Self-awareness is important to stop daytime bruxism but employ the help of others if you can’t catch yourself doing it.
  • If you notice that you’re clenching, keep lips together, keep teeth slightly apart, and place the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This technique helps your jaw relax and eventually train you not to grind your teeth.

We hope these tips help you keep your daytime grinding in check! If you need any other tips or are interested in getting your teeth looked at, don’t hesitate to visit Chicago’s number one dentistry. Contact us today!


How a Dentist Can Help With Chronic Pain Disorders

October 30th, 2014

How a Dentist Can Help With Chronic Pain DisordersChronic pain involving the mouth, gums, teeth, or jaw can be a horribly uncomfortable experience that any person would want relief from as soon as possible. Often, a dentist can help you with chronic pain relief. To do so, the dentist must determine what kind of pain you are in, and if possible, what is causing the pain.
There are many oral issues that are associated with chronic pain, including TMJ, burning mouth syndrome, and bruxism, or teeth grinding. First, you must understand how these issues occur before you can understand how they are treated.

Temporomandibular Joint

Otherwise known as TMJ, Temporomandibular Joint connects the lower jaw to the side of the head, a bone known as the temporal bone. This is a very complicated bone structure, as the joint is flexible, allowing you to move your jaw up and down as well as left to right.
One can experience several kinds of TMJ disorders than can cause serious pain. Myofascial pain involves discomfort in the muscle and jaw. Internal derangement is pain caused by the joint being displaced, dislocated, or injured. Arthritis can also occur, which leaves the area of the joint tender and worn.
It is difficult to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders because there are very little tests available to discover exactly what problem exists in the joint area. However, by talking to a dentist about your symptoms, they can help pinpoint if there is a problem with your TMJ. A dentist that knows your medical history will be especially helpful.
Treatments for TMJ disorders can range from conservative to extreme. For low pain, dentists recommend self-care practices such as eating soft foods, applying ice packs to the painful area, and learning techniques for relaxing and stretching the jaw.
Dentists may also recommend certain pain medications, including over the counter meds, that can help relieve some jaw discomfort.
For the most extreme cases, stabilization splints can be applied that will help re-align your jaw to serve your TMJ better. As well, there are surgical techniques that can invade the tissue around the jaw and help re-align your TMJ. However, surgical techniques are still somewhat controversial and should be avoided if possible.
 Learn how TMJ Therapy can help you here.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Otherwise known as BMS, Burning Mouth Syndrome is a chronic pain condition where a person experiences burning sensations on the tongue, lips, roof of mouth, gums and cheeks. There is no one physical abnormality that causes the issue that makes BMS a complicated condition.
BMS can last for several months to years. Typically, the pain starts mildly in the morning and becomes worse throughout the day. The syndrome can also bring symptoms of dry lips, a sore mouth, and a metallic taste on the tongue.
Though there is not one specific cause of BMS, most dentists agree that the following symptoms are often associated with BMS:

  • Nutritional deficiencies (especially iron, folate, and vitamin B)
  • Dry mouth
  • Oral candidiasis (this is a fungal infection of the mouth)
  • Diabetes
  • Menopause
  • Anxiety and Depression

To treat BMS, pain relievers are often used to alleviate the symptoms. However,   antidepressants can also be used to help reduce pain. Tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and muoclsal protectors have all shown signs of improving BMS symptoms.
Again self-care practices can also help fight against BMS, including:

  • Avoiding mouthwash with alcohol in it
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Avoiding spicy and acidic foods

Generally referred to as teeth grinding, Bruxism is a condition where a person grinds their teeth, usually unconsciously. While most people, at some point, grind their teeth, it is when it becomes a chronic issue that it’s a bigger concern.
Teeth grinding often occurs during your sleep, so most people are unaware of the issue. They’ll often wake up with sore jaws and a splitting headache, completely unaware teeth grinding has caused it. Often, it is a loved one that hears the grinding, which is an awful sound, and informs them of the issue.
Not only can teeth grinding cause serious pain that can last throughout the day, it also badly damages your teeth, wearing away at the enamel that protects your teeth from cavities.
The best treatment for teeth grinding is by preventing the problem with a mouth guard. However, you can also practice self-care by avoiding caffeine and alcohol, training yourself to unclench your teeth during the day, and relaxing your jaw muscle at night by holding a warm washcloth to your jaw just below your earlobes.
If you believe you are experiencing any of the chronic pain problems above, or have another issue that is causing you discomfort, do not hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental. We’d be happy to help you lose the discomfort and move forward with a bright smile.