Grinding your teeth on the regular is a nasty habit that can lead to significant consequences, including fractured or loosened teeth and – ultimately – tooth loss. In the most severe cases, teeth grinding can even result in compromising the jaw and changing the appearance of the face. To avoid this type of damage, it’s important to address the issue and pursue treatment.
Before we go into the various steps you can take to save your teeth from grinding, it’s important to first determine if and when you grind your teeth. While some people grind consciously when they’re anxious or stressed, most people actually grind their teeth during sleep – which makes it difficult to know that it’s happening. If you often wake up with a sore jaw or a dull headache, we recommend getting examined by a dentist to give you the confirmation you need that you are, in fact, grinding your teeth!
If you struggle with teeth grinding or think you do, here are the most common ways to protect yourself:
Treat Stress & Sleep Disorders
Stress has a profound impact on your health, even during your sleeping hours! If you’re grinding your teeth, try stress-reducing activities such as exercise, meditation, seeing a counselor, or consulting with your primary physician for possible medicinal solutions. Meanwhile, sleep disorders can be another common cause of grinding. Treatment of the disorder will usually fix the issue. There are a limited number of dentists that are truly familiar with airway focused dentistry so ask a lot of questions or give me a call.
Avoid Caffeine & Alcohol
Consuming anything that contains caffeine – such as coffee, soda, and chocolate – can interfere with a restful night’s sleep, which can cause teeth grinding to intensify. Also avoid consuming alcohol, because while you may think it helps you relax, it can actually increase teeth grinding when sleeping.
Try Jaw Relaxation Exercises
Grinding your teeth is an unconscious reflex. Try making a mental note of it whenever you notice it happening, to gain greater awareness of the issue during waking hours. When you feel your jaw tighten and you think you might start grinding, move your tongue so that it’s between your front teeth. This will help your jaw to relax. At night, you can accomplish this same thing by pressing a warm washcloth to your cheek just below your earlobe. Heat will help relax the muscles.
Use a Mouth Guard
Consult with your dentist to get fitted with a specialized mouth guard. While the guard won’t actually stop your teeth grinding, it will protect your teeth from damage as you pursue long-term treatment.
If you struggle with teeth grinding and want to know how we can help you save your teeth, call our office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule an appointment.