Do you regularly clench your teeth at work, in heavy traffic or when you find yourself in stressful situations? Even your partner complains that you grind your teeth at night? This means that you are probably suffering from bruxism. And even though it may seem like a small matter, bruxism is a condition that can destroy your teeth and beautiful smile. Bruxism is generated by anxiety and stress, and can cause headaches, jaw pain, irregular sleep, shoulder and neck tension, broken teeth, temporomandibular damage and facial misalignment. In this article, you will learn a few tips on how to stop grinding your teeth.
A lot of people suffer from bruxism, but they are unaware of it
According to the ADA (American Dental Association), more than 95% of Americans have clenched and ground their teeth at some point in their lives. Furthermore, more than 20% of Americans suffer from bruxism and most of them don’t even know it.
How do you determine you have bruxism?
Bruxism offers clear symptoms which usually come together. If you suffer from bruxism, you most likely have:
- Headaches in the morning when you wake up after a stressful day
- Jaw pain in the joint and joint muscles (TMD)
- Tooth damage because of excessive tooth grinding (worn down and loose teeth)
- Shoulder and neck pain
Causes of bruxism
Most bruxism cases are caused by stress and anxiety. So if you are under a lot of stress or feel anxious, you could be one of the victims of bruxism. Other factors that cause tooth grinding may be crooked or missing teeth, jaw misalignment, sinus problems, side effects of certain medication, and sleep disorders.
Few tips on how to stop your tooth grinding
- Stress management
Since stress is the number one factor of bruxism, you should reduce it by any means necessary. You can exercise, meditate, massage, and anything that will relax you. Also, you should avoid as much as possible stressful situations.
- Use a nightguard
You can purchase over-the-counter mouthguards or you can make a custom one at your dentist’s office. The mouthguard will help relax your jaw muscles and counteract the effects of bruxism.
- Don’t eat and drink before going to bed
Dentists recommend avoiding eating and drinking before bedtime, especially alcohol. Even the smallest amount of snack could aggravate your bruxism.
Even if you think you handle your stress, only your subconscious mind can tell. And if you are not managing your stress the way you should, you could find yourself clenching your teeth. The best way to keep your jaw muscles from clenching is to relax them throughout the day using facial relaxation movement. You can set an alarm to beep each hour to check the tension of your face and practice jaw loosening movements.
- Check the medication you take
There is a lot of medication, especially antidepressants, that have as side effect tooth grinding. If that has happened to you, dentist and doctors recommend finding alternatives to it. You can try vitamins, herbal medication, minerals, supplements, and other prescribed medication.
If you are suffering from bruxism, visit your dentist to determine the source of your problem. Also, the dentist can recommend you jaw loosening exercises, give you medication alternatives, resolve dental misalignment and resolve your tooth grinding problems.