Teeth grinding, medically known as bruxism, tends to occur most often at night. Some people clench their jaw when awake, but tend not to grind their teeth. Everyone clenches their jaw from time to time when feeling anxious or stressed, but grinding can become a habit and lead to serious dental and other health issues.
Figuring out how to stop clenching your teeth helps improve your dental health and reduces the risk of developing other medical conditions over time.
Chronic grinding causes damage to the teeth and can affect you in other negative ways. There are ways to break the habit of grinding. Remedies vary based on the cause of the grinding and in some cases, a combination of remedies works best.
Tooth grinding (bruxism) is often one of the first signs of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder. The disorder is caused by a blockage in the upper airway while sleeping, which results in breathing that repeatedly stops and starts.
Some of the most effective methods to help you with teeth grinding and help you learn how to stop clenching teeth at night include:
Mouthguards provide a cushion between teeth so you don’t damage them by grinding in your sleep. You can purchase a custom night guard online or have one custom-made by your dentist. In addition to preventing teeth damage, they also reduce strain on your jaw. Mouthguards won’t fix the root cause of grinding, but they ease tension and prevent further damage.
You can either get a mouth guard for your upper or lower teeth. Many dentists recommend an upper night guard because they do not fall out as easily. Some people find that lower mouth guards are more comfortable and easier to adapt to than upper mouth guards. However, it depends on the person.
Botox eases teeth grinding and jaw clenching by inactivating the strong facial muscles that bring the upper and lower jaws together. It also alleviates the pain associated with grinding. Additional research is needed to confirm how effective and safe this treatment option is and there are risks. However, many people have found relief from Botox injections. Botox provides only temporary relief as the effect typically wears off within 3 to 6 months.
Biofeedback is a technique that gets to the root of why someone grinds their teeth. The treatment allows you to identify when grinding occurs, which makes it easier to eliminate the behavior.
In biofeedback treatment, you work with a therapist who helps you learn to control your jaw muscles using vibratory, visual, and auditory feedback generated by electromyography.
How effective biofeedback is for treating bruxism requires more research, but it’s a safe approach that deals with changing the behavior instead of just reducing the risk involved with grinding.
Grinding also occurs during the day when someone is awake. There are several options for treating daytime teeth grinding and help you learn how to stop clenching your jaw. These include:
Speaking with a therapist helps reduce the negative feelings associated with teeth grinding. Even talking to a good friend might be enough to ease anxiety and stress and help you deal with bruxism.
Physical activity relieves stress and releases endorphins. These feel-good hormones make it easier to manage difficult times in life, so the physical reaction of teeth grinding isn’t needed.
There are also specific jaw, tongue, and facial muscle exercises you can do to alleviate bruxism.
Meditation is another tool for coping with stress. Not only does it help you control clenching and grinding, but it also eases the pain associated with these behaviors.
The best treatment for dealing with daytime bruxism is finding healthy ways to manage your stress levels. The less tension you feel throughout the day the less your body will react.
Teeth grinding isn’t considered a serious problem, but left untreated, it does cause complications. It can also be painful. Other side effects include:
If you suspect you grind your teeth at night or you know you grind or clench during the day, speak to your dentist. He or she will offer treatment options and teach you how to stop grinding teeth. It’s also important to identify what’s causing you to grind your teeth and deal with the root of the problem.
“See How Health Insurance Coverage Protects You.” HealthCare.Gov, 2018, www.healthcare.gov/why-coverage-is-important/coverage-protects-you/.
Department of Health & Human Services. “Teeth Grinding.” Www.Betterhealth.Vic.Gov.Au, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/teeth-grinding