How To Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Notice you have been grinding your teeth and don’t know what to do to stop? This article can help you solve this question. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common dental issue that can occur when you’re awake or asleep. Often, people who grind their teeth at night don’t realize that they are doing it until they are informed by a loved one who hears the grinding sounds or by a dental professional due to tell-tale signs. If untreated, teeth grinding can result in many issues with the teeth, jaw muscles, and jaw joints.
Teeth grinding has been linked to stress and anxiety, a misaligned bite, certain medications (i.e. antidepressants), missing teeth, sleep disorders (i.e. sleep apnea), and certain medical conditions including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Typical symptoms of teeth grinding include headaches, jaw soreness, sensitive teeth, facial pain, earaches, among many more.
Teeth grinding does not discriminate and can affect both children and adults. In fact, about 14-17% of children grind their teeth according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). It often is onset as their baby teeth begin to erupt, as well as when their permanent teeth emerge. In most cases, treatment of teeth grinding in children is not needed as they tend to outgrow this habit and most likely won’t result in any long-term dental problems.
Your dentist can help diagnose bruxism after a thorough dental examination. They will check for jaw muscle tenderness, tooth wear, and other clinical signs such as evaluating the jawbone with the help of dental radiographs. Depending on each specific case, your dentist may make a referral to a specialist for further evaluation. In some instances, a sleep medicine specialist may be recommended if there is a potential link between your teeth grinding and major sleep problems.
If you or your child has bruxism, one of the best initial steps is to inform your dental professional. They will be able to offer beneficial treatment recommendations that best fit your specific needs. In mild cases, sometimes treatment may not be recommended. In other cases, common treatment options for bruxism can include:
- Mouth guards: Your dentist may recommend a night guard to help protect your teeth from damage caused by clenching and tooth grinding. One of the most common types of mouth guards are customized mouth guards in which your dentist creates that are made to fit your upper and lower teeth.
- Dental correction: If tooth grinding has resulted in severe damage, your dentist may recommend dental crowns, restorative treatment, or reshaping of the teeth.
- Stress or anxiety management: If you believe stress may be contributing to your tooth grinding, relaxation exercises like meditation may help. In addition, exercise, physical therapy, listening to music, or advice from a licensed therapist or counselor may be beneficial.
- Medications: There are currently no medications to completely eradicate teeth grinding and greater research is needed to determine their effectiveness. Your doctor may recommend muscle relaxants, botox injections, anti-anxiety medications, or other medications for a short period of time aimed to reduce bruxism.
Try limiting consumption of caffeine, such as coffee, sodas, and chocolate, which may act as triggers for teeth grinding. Kick bad habits to the curb like chewing on ice, pencils, tools, or any other object that is not food. Limiting gum chewing may also help reduce your likelihood of teeth grinding and will allow your jaw muscles to relax. Your jaw muscles will also tend to loosen up by massaging them or with the use of a warm washcloth against your cheeks.
If you become conscious that you are clenching or grinding your teeth throughout the day, do the best that you can to train yourself to stop. Practice keeping your lips together with your teeth apart, with your tongue placed lightly behind your front teeth. Certain lifestyle changes may also help you stop teeth grinding. For instance, avoiding alcohol and tobacco use may help you stop teeth grinding, as these habits may intensify bruxism.