How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

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How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

Almost as common as snoring, teeth grinding while sleeping — also known as bruxism — can damage teeth and cause pain in the jaw and head. It is often caused by stress, but it can also be the result of abnormal growth of teeth or alignment issues within the mouth and jaw. The first step in stopping teeth grinding while sleeping is to visit your dentist so he or she can determine the cause of the grinding. From there, the dentist may prescribe a mouth guard to train the jaw to stop clenching, or he or she may refer you to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional to help relieve the stress that is causing the grinding.

In many cases, teeth grinding while sleeping can be stopped by using a mouth guard at night. A dentist can make a mold of your teeth to create a mouth guard for use during the night; this mouth guard will keep teeth from grinding against each other, but it will also train the jaw to rest in a different position. Since teeth grinding while sleeping can lead to permanent injury to the teeth and gums, a mouth guard is necessary to prevent cracked teeth, worn enamel, and jaw pain. A specially designed mouth guard from your dentist may be expensive, however, as they are usually not covered by insurance. If you fit this category, then consider purchasing an athletic mouth guard available at most sporting goods stores. While not as durable or low-profile as the versions used by dentists, it is an inexpensive alternative that can accomplish the same goal.

Sometimes the only way to stop teeth grinding while sleeping is to address the cause, which is very often high levels of stress in one’s life. Elevated stress levels can disrupt your normal sleeping patterns, and while the brain is thinking about stressful events that happened during the day, the jaw tends to clamp down, leading to teeth grinding while sleeping. Doctors may recommend you visit a mental health professional who can help you work through some of the stresses of daily life, thereby allowing your mind to relax enough at night that bruxism will not occur. Anger, fear, anxiety, or even anticipation of a positive event to come can all lead to bruxism.

In children, abnormal growth of the teeth and jaws can lead to bruxism. The teeth may not align correctly, leading the child to bite down in such a way that the teeth grind against each other. This is usually not too serious of an issue, as children will outgrow their teeth as they age. If the problem persists after adult teeth begin to grow, a visit to a dentist is in order.

Grinding is part of the teeth’s job, but it can cause complications if it keeps happening during sleep

How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

Grinding is part of the teeth’s job in breaking down food (especially your molars), but it can cause severe complications to your oral health if it keeps on happening during sleep. Also called bruxism, teeth grinding can be both painful and harmful. Most people who grind or clench their teeth may not be aware they’re doing it as it often occurs during sleep or under stressful situations. If you or your loved one is exhibiting symptoms of teeth grinding, it’s time to find ways to put a stop to it.

How Do You Know If You Grind Your Teeth During Sleep?

How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

Do you experience tight jaw muscles or wake up with an unexplained headache? Many people learn about their teeth grinding habits from a partner or family member. Still, some signs can tell you it’s been happening, especially if persistent headaches, muscle stiffness, and jaw pains become a regular occurrence. Symptoms of teeth grinding also include:

  • Sore facial muscles
  • Earaches
  • Headaches
  • Fractured, flattened, chipped, or loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Temporomandibular joint damage or TMJ
  • Tired jaw muscles
  • Pain or soreness in the neck, face, or jaw

If you suspect that you grind your teeth during sleep, it’s best to talk to a dentist who can examine your mouth for signs of bruxism.

What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Bruxism?

How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information explained the causes of teeth grinding, which include stress, anxiety, and other psychosocial influences. It also states that grinding is common among people with tooth interference, such as crooked teeth, missing teeth, or an abnormal bite.

Bruxism can also be a side effect of psychiatric medications such as antidepressants, and is often associated with mental disorders and conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, night terrors, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), and sleep apnea.

How Do I Stop Teeth Grinding?

How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

There are several treatment options for bruxism, depending on the symptoms. Below are some tips that may help stop teeth grinding:

Practice Stress Reduction Techniques

Anxiety and stress are some of the most common causes of bruxism, so a doctor may advise you to start an exercise routine or prescribe medication to relax the nerves. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health found that emotional stability is associated with bruxism. Individuals who are more emotionally stable are less likely to grind their teeth.

Stress reduction techniques include meditation, yoga, talk therapy, and exercise, all of which may reduce stress by producing feel-good endorphins. For meditation, you may have to find out which type of meditation is best for you. You may join a meditation group or download a meditation app to see what you prefer. You may also incorporate stress-relieving activities into your daily routine. Go for walks every day or attend a dance class a few days a week.

As for talk therapy, you may consider speaking to a family member, friend, psychiatrist, or counselor, depending on your needs and the severity of your stress. By talking to someone, you can vent your frustrations and better cope with your problems.

Do Some Jaw Exercises

How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

Prevent yourself from grinding or clenching your teeth during the day. Try positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth or say the letter N out loud. You may also gently massage your jaws to loosen up your muscles. These simple exercises can train the jaw muscles to relax.

Avoid chewing on anything that is not food (chewing gums included). Do not chew on pens or pencils as it allows the jaw to get used to clenching. You may also hold a warm washcloth against the cheek just in front of your earlobe every night. It will help relax the jaw muscles and minimize teeth grinding during sleep.

Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine, and Tobacco

Some common habits are also factors to unconscious teeth grinding. A study found that caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can contribute to teeth grinding. After reviewing 818 studies, a link was found between coffee drinkers and bruxism.

Drinking a glass of wine before going to bed may sound good, but in reality, it can affect the quality of your sleep. Caffeinated drinks such as energy drinks and soda may also increase your risk. Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake and stop smoking if you want your condition to improve.

Use a Mouth Guard

How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

A mouth guard prevents teeth grinding during sleep. It protects the teeth and gums and eases even chronic types of bruxism. They can be used by kids and adults not only as protection for teeth grinding but also for contact sports such as boxing or high-impact activities like biking.

How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

This Cheeky Night Guard is comfortable to wear. It is soft on the inside and is customized based on your size and thickness preference, unlike those one-size-fits-all, mass-produced thermoplastic mouth guards. And regardless of the preferred thickness, the price stays the same.

How to stop clenching or grinding your teeth

Cheeky’s mouth guards are not any different from what you can get from a dentist, making them the perfect alternative. Their advantage is that they are inexpensive compared to custom mouth guards from dentists, while still being of equal quality and effectiveness. Just remember to replace your Cheeky every three months because, over time, mouth guards can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Teeth grinding can become chronic and may result in the loosening, fracturing, or loss of teeth. While not life-threatening, untreated bruxism can be harmful to the jaw, teeth, and surrounding muscles. It’s essential to address the symptoms in their early stages before they wear down your teeth — any further damage may require root canals, crowns, and even dentures for treatment.