Bruxism is a dental problem characterized by grinding the teeth and clenching of the jaws. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching often occur during sleep although some people clench their jaws during the day. Many people grind their teeth at night and are completely unaware but have side effects like headaches, an aching jaw, and even cracked and sensitive teeth. Bruxism can start in childhood and continue throughout a person's life.
If you don't learn to stop grinding teeth then you could end up in a financial bind. Insurance companies will not cover crowns in many situations if the person's teeth grinding is the cause.
Things You Will NeedMouth guard
Dentist or medical doctor
Step 1Look for signs that your grind your teeth. Most likely you already know because you have some of the symptoms or someone has told you they hear you grinding at night. Some people grind their teeth so loudly it can be heard across a room and is worse than listening to someone snore. Others signs of teeth grinding are cut on the cheek and tongue from chewing at night, worn down areas on the teeth, sore jaw muscles and/or face pain, headaches, and ear pain.
The signs of your grinding can be helpful in your prevention. If you wake up in the morning and always have marks on the left side of your cheek then this might be a place to look. Maybe it's a simple solution such as the way you sleep.
Step 2See a doctor or dentist to stop grinding teeth. Depending on your financial situation and insurance coverage it may be hard to see a dentist. If possible go see a dentist so he or she can evaluate your overall oral health. He or she will examine your teeth for any damage caused by Bruxism and make sure that the alignment of your teeth is not the cause. Follow the advice of the dentist.
If muscle tension is a problem talk to your doctor. Massaging your jaw muscles can help relieve tension. Ask your doctor about trigger points and what you can do to relieve them.
Step 3Implement stress reduction activities into your life. Although teeth grinding is usually unconscious it is associated with stress, especially true of people who clench their jaws. Seek counseling or therapy if you have mental health issues, mental illness, or trouble managing stress. It might seem completely unrelated to think that you'd need to go to a counselor because you grind your teeth while you're sleeping, but relieving stress and resolved issues can go a long way in healing your body.
Some people try medications such as muscle relaxers. You can also use herbal supplements, calming teas, or aromatherapy. You might like a hot bath. Experiment to find what works best for you.
Step 4Get a mouth guard. There are several types of mouth guards. If you can get your dentist to make one this is the best option because he or she can take a mold of your teeth. A guard that fits your upper teeth is best and will stop your back teeth from touching without making your mouth feel too overcrowded. Many people use sports mouth guards but these are usually too big and also hard to mold. The right mouth guard stops your teeth from grinding.
Step 5Avoid stimulants. These include caffeine, nicotine, and substances like methamphetamine or cocaine. The list is longer and covers more medications. Pay attention to your body. If you find that something that you eat or drink causes you to feel anxious and you catch yourself clenching your jaw then make yourself stop. The process of stopping is very difficult. If you do self-care behavior and it does not improve then return to your dentist or see your doctor. Sometimes there are underlying conditions that cause disorders that tend to get overlooked. Most of the time though it's just teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
Maintaining general health is very important. Eat a good diet, drink plenty of fluids, get rest and use stress management tools in your life. These seem like the general tips that we hear all the time, but it's because they are the backbone of health.
Step 6Keep a journal. Writing is incredibly helpful for documentation. When you catch yourself clenching your jaw during the day write it down. Write down the thought that started it and also what you were feeling. This can help you pinpoint what causes the emotion that triggers daytime grinding and clenching. Anger and anxiety are big causes, but might not be yours.
Tips & WarningsGrinding your teeth is not a dangerous medical condition but it can lead to broken teeth and be a primary cause of other disorders. If you're seeing a doctor for headaches or other pain make sure to mention that you grind your teeth or clench your jaw.
If you are on medication and plan to try herbal supplements make sure they don't interact.