The medical term for teeth grinding is ‘bruxism’ and although this might sound rather alarming, the truth is that most of us probably grind our teeth in our sleep every now and again. However, if bruxism continues on an ongoing basis then it can be very damaging for the teeth and there are other issues that can arise in the context of your oral health. Fracturing of teeth, tooth loss and loosening of teeth are all risks with bruxism, which can also affect the jaw and cause problems with hearing.
There are numerous reasons why people might start grinding their teeth at night – for example, missing or crooked teeth might be the issue or the grinding could be the result of a period of anxiety. Whatever lies at the root of the problem, it is better to take action when it comes to teeth grinding as soon as possible. So, how do you stop?
1. Get your dentist to fit a mouth guard. This won’t actually stop you from grinding your teeth but will protect you from doing any damage if the action continues. It’s easy to get a mouth guard fitted and there are different types available.
2. Look at causes of stress. If you are suffering from stress or anxiety then this could be the cause of your bruxism, in which case you need to find out what is behind the stress and deal with it. There are also medical options here – speak to your doctor about muscle relaxants or perhaps getting some therapy for ongoing issues that seem difficult to resolve. Remember that regular exercise can have a really positive effect on stress and will make you sleep better too, so if you’re a bit of a couch potato it might be time for a lifestyle overhaul.
3. Caffeine. If you have problems with tooth grinding then cut down on, or avoid completely if possible, any food and drink that contains caffeine – such as tea, coffee, cola etc – grinding tends to get worse after caffeine consumption.
4. Don’t chew anything other than food. If you’re a gum lover then it might be time to give it up as the more your jaw muscles get used to clenching the more likely you are to continue the tooth grinding. Try some carrot sticks instead.
5. Try to train yourself. If you can, consciously try to stop grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw during the day. When you feel yourself starting to do it then trying putting your tongue between your teeth, which should slacken the jaw muscles.
6. Relax. Learn how to take all the tension out of your face and get used to relaxing your jaw muscles. If you find this difficult then a warm flannel against your cheeks and in front of your earlobe can really help. Try taking a few deep breaths and letting the tension flow our of your system – this is will not only help with your bruxism but with general relaxation too.
Smile Pad offers fantastic orthodontics in London as well as in areas including Bristol, Chertsey & Salisbury. If you suffer from bruxism then contact us today to see if we can help.