Five Tips to Stop Teeth Grinding
Many people occasionally clench their jaw or grind their teeth in response to stress. However, for others it is a continual habit. Perpetual teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can have harmful effects on oral health. Teeth grinding puts excessive pressure on the teeth that can cause dental damage. It is also a leading cause of TMJ disorder, a painful condition that affects the jaw.
Stopping teeth grinding is important to preserving oral health, but quitting is not always as easy as it may seem. Here, dentists from 38th Street Dental in Austin, TX, offer tips to stop teeth grinding so that further dental complications can be avoided.
1. Wear a Nighttime Mouth Guard
There is a reason that quitting teeth grinding is difficult to do, and that is because most people grind and clench their teeth while they are sleeping, which means they are usually unaware they are even doing it. In many cases individuals don’t realize they suffer from bruxism until it is pointed out by a dentist, once dental damage has developed.
To prevent teeth grinding at night, people should consider a nighttime mouth guard. A nighttime mouth guard is similar to the protective mouthpiece worn by athletes, only much slimmer and more comfortable. The mouth guard holds the jaw in proper alignment while a patient sleeps and prevents the top and bottom teeth from touching or grinding against one another. We offer our Austin patients custom mouth guards that are specifically designed to fit comfortably and securely while they sleep.
2. Ask About Orthodontic Treatment
Although it is not always the case, teeth grinding is sometimes a side effect of malocclusion problems. If the teeth and/or jaw are misaligned a person may subconsciously clench or grind their teeth in response to the imbalance. People who suffer from bruxism should request an orthodontic consultation to determine if teeth straightening treatment is necessary.
3. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Teeth grinding is often a response to stress or anxiety. Relaxation techniques can minimize emotional stress while also relaxing the facial muscles, both of which should help when it comes to stopping teeth grinding. Some relaxation techniques that may be beneficial to those of our Austin patients who suffer from bruxism include:
- Daily exercise
- A warm bath
- Warm compresses or a heating pad applied to the jaw
- Herbal, caffeine-free tea
4. Massage the Jaw Muscles
Physically massaging the jaw muscles is another great way to relax facial muscles and prevent grinding or clenching. It is a good idea to rub the jaw muscles in a circular motion any time the muscles tighten or clench. Even if tightness is not noticeable, massaging the jaw muscles each night before bed can be beneficial.
5. Avoid Excessive Chewing
If the jaw muscles are used excessively it becomes easier for them to remain in a tightened or clenched position, which increases the likelihood of teeth grinding. To encourage muscle relaxation people should avoid excessive chewing, such as chewing on gum or eating foods that are especially chewy or sticky.
Contact 38th Street Dental
Teeth grinding is a harmful habit that can damage the smile, but the dentists at 38th Street Dental can help you protect your teeth and jaw. To learn more about stopping teeth grinding, contact our dental practice online, or call (512) 458-6222 and request an appointment.