Everyone grinds and clenches their jaws from time to time. However, some may develop this as a habit, in time causing serious dental issues. Teeth grinding is a health condition that can have multiple causes, and if it is done mostly during sleep it can be complicated to get rid of. The evaluation is that 20% of adults suffer from teeth grinding or bruxism, so there are a lot of people trying to stop this horrible habit. This list of tips might just be the one to help.
The most common causes
The main causes of bruxism are stress and anxiety from the mental health perspective. When it comes to dental health, the issues like an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth are common causes of teeth grinding. The condition that might be followed by this dangerous habit is sleep apnoea.
Physical activity is a great way to raise the level of serotonin, a relaxation hormone. Tension in the body that stress builds up can manifest in jaw clenching activities. Aerobic exercises like Pilates, jogging, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) are great, but you could try swimming for a real combination of physical activity and the calming effect of water.
If you are new to exercise, start slowly. The choices are many: daily walks for an hour, slow workout with weights, or dance to your favourite music, where you can take breaks whenever you feel the need to. Any movement is fine, as long as you sweat a bit and feel the satisfaction.
The opposite of physical activity is relaxation. Even if you are physically active, it just might not be enough to stop with the jaw-clenching habit. You could meditate, do yoga for a combination of physical activity and relaxation, make a mini sleeping routine, or journal. The light from the screens around us doesn’t help us sleep and therefore it could be in the way of your precious sleep without grinding.
If you, however, do need relaxation throughout the day, a screen off for 10 minutes while drinking the beverage of your choice might be enough. Try to have neutral colours around you, a plant, or a picture that relaxes you.
The most practical solution is a mouth guard for teeth grinding. It is the most common treatment that will not stop you from the habit but will save your teeth and jaw from the adverse effects of it.
Mouth guards are mostly prescribed for night time, but there are cases where they could be used even during the day. The dentist will, upon examination, take impressions of your teeth to create a custom mouth guard that is the exact match for you.
This tip sounds easy to say but hard to achieve, we understand that. Still, the advice would be to eat only during your meals, without additional gum chewing and snacking between the meals. It is also a good recommendation to avoid chewy and hard food since these also need strong chewing movements to be eaten. You want to give yourself any conscious time without clenching that is realistic.
Try checking yourself – when are you clenching? What are the situations after or during which grinding occurs? How do you feel when you catch yourself clenching? Following your triggering situations might help you to break the habit off.
Since bruxism can come from subdued issues, stressful environments, and other complex situations, it might not be bad to consider receiving mental health support. Therapy can help you recognize and develop ways to fight the suppressed feelings, express them and heal. This way you will also feel more relaxed and as a result, less grind will be happening.
A psychiatrist could even help by giving prescriptions for muscle relaxation medications, melatonin, or similar treatment.
You can do exercises for the jaw and tongue to help relax and keep the proper position of the jaw. Try vocalizing the letter ‘N’ for 30 seconds to use your tongue while relieving the pressure from the jaw. The other letter exercise that you can benefit from is an exercise with the letter ‘R’.
Additionally, try gentle massages for your jaw and neck around the jaw area to loosen up the muscles. To have the full effect of these measures and break the bruxism habit you need to do them daily for a few months.
To sum up, treating bruxism early is important to avoid significant dental complications. When it comes to the corresponding health professional, your dentist and doctor are both good resources for diagnosing and treating bruxism. Additionally, you might consider psychiatrist therapy sessions to break the habit and other bad habits completely off. Remember that you are not alone and that treatment is available. Good luck!