Do you suffer from bruxism? If yes, then you are probably clenching teeth along with grinding at night.
This condition impacts your teeth, leads to jaw pain and headache.
It impacts your quality of life and oral health greatly.
However, it is stoppable.
But first, you will have to figure out what causes the condition in order to deter the cause.
Don’t worry, We have you covered!
This article discusses the ways you can use to stop clenching teeth and improve your oral health.
Causes of Clenching Teeth
Most people grind their teeth during sleep.
Clenching teeth while awake is rarer, though possible.
One of the most significant reasons behind this is stress.
Stress, as well as anxiety, can cause you to clench and grind teeth while you are asleep.
As it happens in sleep, it tightens your facial muscles and causes cracks in your teeth.
Besides that, you may also do so because of a misaligned bite.
If your mouth does not close properly and your teeth are either crooked or missing then while sleeping, they may grind together.
TMJ leads to soreness in the mouth, face and neck, making it difficult to chew and open the jaw.
Moreover, you will have a headache and hear your jaw pop.
Similarly, if you have rheumatoid arthritis your jaw will be taught.
There can also be inflammation in the joints, pain and stiffness.
Thus, these are the reasons why you may start clenching and grinding your teeth.
It results in uncomfortable symptoms that will affect your quality of life and oral health.
Let’s find out about them below!
- Persistent headaches especially in the morning
- Sore jaw as you wake up
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Neck pain
- Cracked teeth
- Sore facial muscles
It is harmful to your teeth as it can cause all of these symptoms.
However, the biggest damage may be to your teeth.
It can wear down the enamel over time making teeth susceptible to attack from bacteria.
As your teeth lose enamel they become more sensitive.
Not only that, they are more prone to decay and bacteria.
Thus, you can get a cavity easily.
Along with that this also impacts the firmness of your teeth.
The action of grinding and clenching can lead to cracks and chips in teeth.
Also, your teeth become so loose that you may feel they will fall off.
Other than that, your neck and head will pain because of the pressure your teeth and jaw are exerting.
In worse cases when it affects the TMJ, it can change your facial appearance.
The damage can be severe enough that you will require implants, crowns, bridges or even dentures to fix it.
Usually, when you grind or clench, the noise is loud enough to wake the person behind you.
If you do not see any visible signs, ask your partner if they can hear you grinding teeth.
Once, you know you are, consult your doctor to take steps to deter its harm.
Keep reading below to know how you can stop this habit in its tracks.
How To Stop Clenching Teeth At Night- Reducing Stress
The first step in managing bruxism is to reduce the stress and anxieties that result in the problem.
Therefore, if you have worries that are drastically affecting your life, you will first need to sort them out in order to be healthy orally and physically.
This involves using stress reduction techniques that will divert your mind, relax it and bring you peace.
- Talking to peers
- Getting therapy
- Practicing Mindfulness
- Positive Thinking
If there is something that stresses you beyond your control, try talking it out with your friends, family or partner.
Maybe discussing what causes anxiety can help you figure out a way to reduce it.
Moreover, tell your partner to wake you up if they hear you grind and clench your teeth.
However, telling people who know you may not always be the solution.
In that case, go to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.
They may also recommend medicines to deal with depression and anxiety.
Other than that meditation can help you cope with anxiety, depression and stress.
Though, remember that it takes practice.
Moreover, you may want to combine it with yoga.
According to a study, yoga reduced mild to moderate depression in participants.
Thus, if your clenching habit arises from there, it can impact your oral health too.
Another way t control your depression is to practice mindfulness.
This will help you to at least stay in the present and think positively.
Also, bring yourself to awareness of the tension in your jaw.
Try to actively lose your muscles and relax them.
If you wake up during your sleep then relax them again.
Similarly, exercise helps to release endorphins that make you feel good.
These reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Start from 15 minutes a day and gradually increase.
Using a Mouthguard and Correcting Misalignment
If you cannot stop yourself from grinding despite trying to reduce stress then at least try to reduce the damage it causes.
For that, you can use a mouthguard or a splint to cover your teeth at night.
A bite splint works in a similar manner to that of a mouthguard.
It will prevent the damage sustained from bruxism.
This happens when the mouthguard cushions your teeth.
Therefore, the upper and lower ones do not grind against each other.
You can either get an OTC (Over-the-counter) mouthguard or custom-made ones.
Custom-made mouthguards are given to you by your dentist.
They fit your jaw’s shape and size.
Plus their thickness can vary too.
Hence, they cover your teeth completely without causing any discomfort.
On the other hand, the store brought OTC mouthguards will surely not cover your teeth as is.
They can be loose and misfit creating other problems for your mouth.
However, they will probably be inexpensive in comparison.
Teeth grinding and subsequent clenching may also result from a misaligned bite.
Braces and orthodontic appliances such as Invisalign can correct those bite problems.
Thus, if they align your teeth, you will no longer have to clench them at night.
However, your teeth may also be worn down after constant grinding.
Your dentist will perform reconstructive treatments that will secure your teeth.
These include the crowns and overlays.
Once you have a more aligned bite your teeth will not rub against one another at night.
Plus, the crowns and overlays can cover the worn-down enamel and sensitivity in your teeth.
Jaw Exercises and Botox Treatment
Jaw and Facial Exercise
Performing jaw joint exercises can help to relieve the taut jaw.
You can do so by resting the tongue’s tip behind your upper front teeth.
Subsequently, move the bottom of the jaw and lower teeth away from the upper teeth.
This is the jaw joint stretch that eases the tightness in the muscles of the jaw and neck.
You can also do the smile stretch whereby you stand by the mirror and smile widest till it does not hurt.
While smiling open your jaw up to 5 cm and inhale through your mouth and also exhale while letting go of it.
Before sleep, also practice saying “N” loudly which prevents your lower and upper teeth from touching.
Injecting Botox in the masseter that moves the jaw helps to reduce the pain and the frequency by which you grind your teeth.
This is done by relaxing the masseter.
Therefore, you may not grind teeth and will also see a reduction in headaches.
Due to the relaxation, you are less prone to clench however, it is not a cure for bruxism rather it will relax the muscle.
The benefits are rather short-lived.
It can last for 3 to 4 months.
However, more research is needed in its use.
It is a kind of treatment where the therapist shows you how to control your jaw muscle.
It uses vibratory, visual and auditory feedback from electromyography.
The contingent electric stimulation may bring short-term benefits to alleviate grinding and clenching.
Other Precautions for Clenching Teeth
Control Substances that can Affect your Quality of Sleep
Do not consume alcohol, caffeine and chocolates that can influence your quality of sleep.
You may become more active because of caffeine in coffee and tea as well as due to sugars.
Whereas alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle.
In all these conditions, you are more likely to sleep not as well.
Your body needs to relax so that you do not clench.
Hence, avoid these.
Massaging the Jaw
Right before sleep massage your jaw.
This helps to increase blood flow and reduce the tightness in your muscle.
Open your mouth and rub the muscles found near the ears.
Use a circular motion to massage them.
Keep doing this during the day.
Alter Sleeping Position
You may be grinding and clenching because of the way you sleep.
It usually applies to people who sleep on their backs.
Change your position to the side and use pillows to prevent you from sleeping on the back again.
Clenching teeth can harm your teeth greatly and in the long term.
However, it is treatable by being diligent with your treatment.
Hence, try to eliminate stress and other problems in your life so that you can have an overall healthy life.