A Teeth-Grinder’s Guide
Do you notice jaw pain, headaches, or sore facial muscles when you wake up? These are the telltale signs that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth while asleep.
Don’t worry — you’re certainly not alone in this struggle. In fact, the American Sleep Association estimates that this problem plagues ten percent of adults and as many as fifteen percent of children in the United States. Grinding or clenching your teeth, also known as bruxism, doesn’t just harm your jaw and the surrounding muscles — it can also be disastrous for your teeth.
If you suspect that you grind or clench your teeth, we strongly encourage you to take a critical look at your habits and consider different ways to treat this common problem.
Addressing Your Grinding or Clenching
Realizing that you have bruxism is undoubtedly one of the most challenging aspects of treating your grinding or clenching. Since so many patients grind or clench throughout the night, it can be difficult to realize that they suffer from bruxism. Some of the most notable signs of bruxism include:
- Sore teeth
- Worn tooth enamel
- Tight or sore jaw muscles
- Pain in the jaw, neck, or face
- Dull headaches
- Flattened, chipped, or fractured teeth
Patients that continue to grind or clench their teeth can eventually wear their teeth down to nubs or develop TMJ, a condition marked by the dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint.
Relaxation Techniques to Ease Your Bruxism
For most patients, getting a custom-made mouthguard from your dentist is the obvious next step to preventing damage to the teeth and jaw. While this is a great option to prevent any further damage, it doesn’t actually treat the underlying problem — stress. Since many cases of bruxism relate to stress levels, using relaxation techniques and methods to reduce stress are a great way to overcome grinding.
Some steps to consider include:
Reduce Your Caffeine Consumption: Feeling jittery and anxious? It may be time to cut down on your caffeine intake. Drinking too much caffeine can make you feel tense, which ends up contributing to your bruxism. If you can’t eliminate caffeine altogether, we encourage you to stop drinking caffeine by noon because it can remain in the body for up to 10 hours.
Drink Non-Caffeinated Tea Before Bed: Opting for an herbal or chamomile tea is a great way to naturally reduce your stress levels. Try a cup of warm tea before bed and reap the benefits of this relaxing beverage.
Exercise More Often: According to a study conducted by the University of Georgia, regular exercise can reduce anxiety by up to 20 percents. Regular exercise is also proven to reverse the damage that stress causes the brain. Try adding 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine to help reduce stress, and in turn, this will reduce your likelihood of grinding or clenching your teeth while sleeping.
Take a Relaxing Bath: Taking a warm bath with Epsom salts can help release some of the tension in your body. Try taking a relaxing bath an hour before bed to promote relation.
Your Sleep Dentist in Amherst Village
Dr. Ang at Amherst Village Dental offers effective care to treat your bruxism. If grinding or clenching is threatening your health and hurting your smile, seek treatment right away. Call 603-673-5510 today to learn more. Or, you can just fill out the handy submission form on this page and we’ll get right back to you.
To request an appointment, please fill out the form provided.