Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common affliction among both children and adults. Many people also tightly clench their jaws, whether consciously or not, as a response to stressful situations or as a habit. Others only clench or grind their teeth against each other at night – and may not even be aware of it until their sleep partner tells them so! Categorized by when the condition occurs, the two different types of bruxism are called “awake bruxism” and “sleep bruxism.” A person may suffer from one or both.
Your cheek is one of the strongest in your entire body, so it stands to reason that putting that much pressure on your teeth and jaw can, over time, cause a lot of issues. When grinding or clenching is done frequently, patients can experience negative repercussions like achy jaws, teeth damage, headaches, neck and head tension, TMJ issues, and much more. Repetitive grinding can literally wear your teeth down to stubs.
Common Causes of Bruxism
- Sleep disorders like sleep apnea
- Missing teeth
- Usage of certain prescribed medications
Self-Treatment for Bruxism
First, you need to see your dentist to evaluate the damage to your dental health. Together, you can develop a plan to protect your teeth. However, here are some useful tips that anyone can practice to lessen the impact of bruxism on your teeth:
- If your bruxism is stress-related, you’ll need to decrease stress in your life (which is good for anyone!). You should think about your specific stressors and try to come up with any ideas that can help you to manage or mitigate them.
- Make an active effort to relax your jaw throughout the day. Set a reminder on your phone to check in and see if you’re tense or holding your stress in your jaw. Separate your teeth and rest your tongue on the back side of your top row of teeth to make sure you’re not clenching.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as these can aggravate or worsen your condition.
- Try not to chew on candies, gum, pens, or pencils.
- Stretch your jaw by opening your mouth as wide as you can.
- Massage your jaw and face to relieve tightness and tension. You can also use a warm cloth to relax the area.
- In severe cases, certain prescription medications may help relieve the pain. Ask your dentist if this is an appropriate option for you.
If you suffer from sleep bruxism, a mouth guard will likely be an important line of defense for your teeth. Your dentist can professionally fit you for the guard, which you put in each night before bed to protect your teeth from pressure.
If you visit your dentist before permanent damage is done to your teeth by bruxism, the chances are very good that you will be able to get things under control and protect your teeth for the future. Don’t let bruxism get the best of you: schedule a visit with Chauvin Dental today!