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Bruxism refers to excessive, involuntary, and subconscious or unconscious teeth grinding and/or clenching. It happens most often during sleep, but some people grind their teeth while awake.
Bruxism is a common condition, with roughly half of all people grinding their teeth at least occasionally.1 If you’re one of them, you can try several techniques to stop grinding your teeth.
Researchers don’t fully understand why people grind their teeth. However, they’ve identified several risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing bruxism.
These risk factors include, but are not limited to:
There are many different remedies to prevent bruxism. One method may work better for you than others, depending on the underlying cause.
It can take some experimentation to find what works, and you should talk to your doctor first. Here are some tips on how to stop grinding your teeth or protect your teeth from the negative effects of grinding:
A night guard or mouth guard won’t stop you from clenching your teeth, but it can protect your mouth when you do it. It helps cushion the force generated by your teeth during grinding or clenching.
You may experience less pain, tension, and clicking in your jaw when you use a night guard. You can buy over-the-counter (OTC) guards, order a custom night guard or mouth guard online, or ask your dentist to create one.
Certain dental procedures can help you stop grinding your teeth, depending on the cause. Treatments your dentist may suggest include:
If your bruxism stems from stress or emotional issues, a treatment focused on mental health can help. Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), helps manage depression and emotional issues like stress and anxiety.
Psychotherapy may also help people become more aware of when they’re grinding their teeth or clenching their jaws.
Botulinum toxin A, or botox, is a neurotoxin made by bacteria. Botox toxins block muscle contractions, which might decrease bruxism if injected into the jaw muscles.
Studies disagree on the effectiveness of botox for bruxism, pointing to the need for more research.2 Talk to your doctor to see if botox injections may help you.
Biofeedback can identify when there is too much activity in your jaw using an electromyography (EMG) monitor.
This tool helps you notice when you’re grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. A biofeedback therapist will monitor the session and guide you on how to relax your jaw muscles consciously.
Research on biofeedback remains in the early stages, so it’s important to discuss this option with your doctor.
If muscle tension and stress are behind your bruxism, practicing relaxation and stress management techniques may help. Popular methods include:
Some physical therapists teach jaw muscle and facial exercises to reduce bruxism and its symptoms.
Behavioral therapy can help you learn how to rest your teeth, tongue, and lips properly to reduce jaw discomfort.
In severe cases where other treatments aren’t effective, your doctor may temporarily prescribe medications to treat bruxism, such as:
If your bruxism is a side effect of a medication, your doctor may change your prescription.
Certain underlying conditions can contribute to bruxism. Treating those conditions may help you stop grinding your teeth. Such conditions include:
You can make several lifestyle changes to reduce or prevent bruxism, such as:
Many people don’t realize they’re grinding their teeth or clenching their jaws, especially while sleeping. You can keep an eye out for a few symptoms and signs that you may have bruxism, including:
If you’re grinding or clenching your teeth regularly, the first thing you’ll probably notice is pain or muscle tension. Bruxism can cause:
You may also notice bruxism having an impact on your teeth, including:
You may notice other symptoms along with pain and tooth issues. Some other common signs that you’re grinding your teeth are:
You may be grinding your teeth if you’re experiencing some or many of these symptoms. It’s best to consult with a doctor or a dentist to talk about solutions.
If you grind your teeth occasionally, you may be able to resolve the issue at home. However, you may need medical advice if it becomes chronic or severe.
Talk to your dentist if you have:
Parents should talk to a dentist if they notice their child is grinding their teeth or clenching their jaw regularly.
Chronic, severe teeth grinding can have negative effects on your oral and overall health. Oral health complications and other adverse health effects associated with long-term bruxism include:
Bruxism can significantly affect your quality of life. Talk to your doctor about possible treatments if you have severe side effects from grinding or clenching.
Bruxism is excessive subconscious or unconscious teeth grinding and jaw clenching. It’s a common condition that usually occurs during sleep but can also occur while awake.
The outlook for most people with bruxism is good. Many children outgrow the habit by the time they’re adolescents. Adults that use treatments like nightguards, stress management techniques, or corrective dental procedures also tend to notice a reduction in teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
Treating or managing bruxism can also help reduce the risk or severity of complications, like jaw disorders and tooth damage. Talk to your doctor if you have chronic or severe bruxism that affects your quality of life.
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