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Any clenching or grinding of the teeth that happens involuntarily is considered to be bruxism. If you find yourself waking up in the morning with headaches or experiencing chronic soreness in your jaw, you may be unknowingly grinding your teeth in your sleep. While teeth grinding may seem like a minor issue, bruxism can take a severe toll on your oral health with long-term consequences.
Understanding what’s causing you to grind your teeth is the first step towards protecting your dental health and managing bruxism triggers.
Treatments For Teeth Grinding
The first step in determining how to treat your bruxism is to determine what may be causing it. When it comes to teeth grinding, common triggers include anxiety, alcoholism, smoking, and dental misalignment. Treatment for sleep bruxism can involve multiple components to manage symptoms and reduce the severity of your grinding. It’s always recommended to talk with your dentist so they can help you develop an optimal treatment plan for your specific situation.
Common treatments your dentist may recommend include:
- Using a night guard
- Managing your anxiety
- Altering your lifestyle habits
- Realigning your teeth
- Drinking less caffeine
- Eliminating alcohol
- Quitting smoking
Managing Pain and Other Symptoms From Bruxism
Nighttime teeth clenching and grinding can put significant strain on the mouth and jaw while aggravating muscles in the neck. Managing pain and other symptoms from bruxism is a crucial part of the treatment for sleep bruxism.
There are several useful home care tips to help cope with sleep bruxism:
- Do not chew gum.
- Avoid eating hard foods such as nuts, popcorn, and hard candies that can put additional strain on your jaw muscles.
- Be cautious with sticky foods that are difficult to chew.
- Adjust your sleeping position, so the head and neck have additional support.
- Incorporate a hot compress or ice pack to help soothe the pain.
Several mouth exercises have been shown to help reduce pain in the jaw while improving the motion range. Repeat these exercises three times per day or 10 minutes each time. A few minutes of these exercises several times per day may help relax and stretch the jaw muscles that become overworked when grinding and clenching.
Step 1: Close your lips gently while presenting your top and bottom teeth from touching.
Step 2: Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth without touching your teeth.
Step 3: Hold this position for as long as possible.
Step 1: Place your fingertips on your TMJ joints where the lower jaw connects.
Step 2: Slowly open your mouth.
Step 3: Hold your mouth open for 10 seconds.
Step 4: Close your mouth slowly.
Head and neck massages are a great way to relieve muscle tension and pain points related to teeth grinding. A massage therapist or physical therapist can provide massage services while also demonstrating techniques that can be used at home to relieve tension.
Stress is one of the most common contributors to teeth grinding. Because of this, stress reduction and relaxation techniques are a natural approach to resolving bruxism. Incorporating relaxation methods can help you to achieve a better night’s sleep while also reducing your risk of grinding your teeth while you sleep. There are many tricks and techniques to help your mind relax before falling asleep, from meditation to calming breaths.
In severe bruxism cases that persist despite conventional treatment, medications may be considered an appropriate next step. Certain medications for bruxism may not be effective, and all medications come with potential side effects. Botox injections are one of the most effective treatments for decreasing tension in the jaw muscles.
Custom Night Guard
A custom night guard is worn while you sleep to help protect your teeth from grinding. These mouthpieces hold the jaw in a specific position while creating a barrier to minimize tooth damage. Night guards can vary from placing the jaw in a slightly open position to covering just the top or bottom teeth. While they don’t cure bruxism, mouth guards can significantly decrease the impact of teeth grinding while reducing morning headaches and improving sleep quality.
If you are suffering from teeth grinding, Hoffman Dental Care can help you find a solution. To learn more about bruxism treatments in the Macomb area, contact us today.