Bruxism, or teeth clenching and/or grinding, is not an uncommon condition and it can occur in both children and adults, although it tends to be more prevalent amongst adults. The causes of bruxism are not known, but it is often thought to be related to stress. What is more important to understand, however, is the damage it can cause if left untreated. Not only is the sound awful, causing anyone within earshot to cringe as though hearing nails on a chalkboard, but it can also lead to painful symptom such as neck, jaw, and headaches, as well as serious health issues like cracked, chipped, or broken teeth, along with all the conditions that can result from damaged teeth (cavities, infections, tooth decay, and even tooth loss). In short, you need to take steps to prevent further clenching and grinding as soon as you realize you’re suffering from bruxism. Here are a few helpful tips to get you back on track with good oral health.
- Become aware. The first step towards preventing bruxism, at least during daylight hours, is to become aware of when you’re clenching or grinding your teeth. If you can learn to constantly check yourself to see if you’re clenching, for example, you can consciously learn to relax your jaw so as to avoid the aches, pains, and damage of bruxism. And although you can’t really control these actions while sleeping, forming a habit of relaxing your jaw during the day could carry over into the night, potentially improving your condition even when you sleep.
- Cut the caffeine. You know that too much caffeine can make you jittery, but in addition to making it difficult for you to fall asleep and enjoy a deep and untroubled night of sleep without interruption, it can also contribute to your ongoing issue with bruxism. If your bruxism is a byproduct of stress and nervous tension, a stimulant like caffeine is only going to exaggerate the problem.
- Avoid alcohol. You might wonder why you should avoid alcohol when you’ve already vowed to steer clear of caffeine. Don’t they have opposite effects? Although alcohol tends to make you sleepy, it actually inhibits proper sleep patterns, potentially leading to interrupted and restless sleep, as well as early waking. On top of that, alcohol has been found to increase the symptoms of bruxism. So avoid having alcohol before you hit the hay.
- De-stress. If stress is the major contributing factor to most cases of bruxism, as many suspect, then reducing your stressors should help to prevent or reverse the condition. So try exercise, yoga, meditation, massage, and other strategies to lower your stress level. It could make a major difference when it comes to teeth grinding and clenching.
- Get a night guard. One of the best ways to prevent or protect yourself from the effects of bruxism at night is with a mouth guard for teeth grinding. Your dentist will likely start to notice the symptoms during check-ups if you don’t express your concerns, and this professional can provide you with a custom night guard to ensure better sleep and an end to the side effects of bruxism.