6 Tips for Coping with Bruxism or Teeth Grinding
Bruxism is when your teeth are forcefully grinding. It can happen to people of all ages but primarily happens to children and young adults. It’s a unique condition that can occur during the day or night (when you’re asleep). Bruxism itself isn’t particularly serious at first, it can cause pain and discomfort, but after some time has passed and it remains untreated it can lead to lasting damage being done to your teeth as well as cause some other problems. For example, teeth grinding can happen alongside gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In this article, we will explore the ways you can cope with teeth grinding.
Let’s go over some basic symptoms of Bruxism:
- Chipped Teeth
- Growing Teeth Sensitivity
- Tight Jaw Muscles
How to Deal With Bruxism?
1. Lifestyle Changes
Some lifestyle choices can lead to bruxism. Tobacco and alcohol usage can both lead to an increased chance of bruxism manifesting itself. There are things that you can help to naturally get rid of bruxism:
- Getting rid of tobacco and alcohol
- Avoid coffee in the evenings
- Have a stable sleep schedule paired with good sleeping habits
- Avoid hard foods (popcorn, hard candies, nuts, etc.)
- Get rid of gum
- Get a second pillow or a higher pillow so that your neck is in a higher position when you sleep
- Prevent your upper and lower teeth from touching when you close your mouth.
2. Mouth Exercises
There are muscles exercises that can help with bruxism and they can be done when you have some spare time. Do the following exercise:
- Place your hands on the temporomandibular joints
- Open your mouth slowly
- Hold your mouth open for around 5 – 10 seconds
- Close your mouth slowly
Do this exercise 3 times a day for 10 minutes, and with discipline, it should show progress in most cases
Be aware that some medications can lead to bruxism in the first place, there have been studies that found a correlation between antidepressants and bruxism. Bruxism is also noticeable more with people who tend to snore. Medication is not a go-to solution as it is not as effective as lifestyle changes and mouth guards when dealing with the problem. However, if the problem persists and does not go away with any of the other options, you should consider specific medication that can help the issue, like muscle relaxants or botox injections. It would be wise to talk to your dentist about this as a last resort, as the potential side-effects outweigh the potential success.
4. Mouth Guards
If the conventional ways of dealing with bruxism don’t help, then you should opt for getting a mouth guard (also known as a night guard). You put them on during night time when you are sleeping. You put them over your teeth in order to protect them from any grinding damage that may be inflicted upon them. You can get an appointment with your dentist in order to get a fitting mouth guard, although some opt for a custom-made grinding mouth guard, as they are usually of higher quality and more effective, but more expensive as well. With mouth guards, you will also have reduced jaw pain.
Certain types of massages can also be beneficial when trying to fix bruxism. By stimulating points in the head and the neck you can relieve accumulated muscle tension that causes teeth grinding. If this proves to be successful, you can ask a therapist to show you some demonstrations that you can use at home to continue the treatment.
6. Just Relax
Relieve yourself from all the stress and anxiety you have accumulated during the day. Before going to bed, do activities that most relax you, whether it be reading, taking a hot shower, or playing with your pet. This might seem like ridiculous treatment at first glance, but keep in mind that almost 70% of bruxism cases are due to stress and/or anxiety. Yes, we aren’t able to just turn off our emotions and stop being angry, but you still have to put in the effort and try to be as calm as possible and apply positive psychology in order to see if this approach can work or not.