Dealing with teeth grinding can be a real challenge, but as it’s a problem that can cause headaches, jaw pain and damage to your teeth too, it’s not something that should be ignored. For those that grind teeth during the day or the night, here are seven tips for how to deal with it and prevent it:
Break the Habit
Teeth grinding is a habit that may be breakable. The first step is identifying the times when you grind your teeth. This is obviously much easier if you grind your teeth during the day. By making a note of each teeth grinding episode you can start to work out why you grind your teeth. It may be a response to stress or something you do when you’re really concentrating on a task. Once you’ve identified the situations that lead to teeth grinding, it’s easier to recognize them in the future. You can then employ relaxation strategies to break the habit and stop your normal teeth grinding response.
Think About What You Eat and Drink
Alcohol can make night time teeth grinding worse. Caffeine is another culprit. Caffeine is found in tea, coffee and chocolate so avoiding these items can make a difference. Smoking and taking recreational drugs can also have an impact on your tooth grinding habit. Consider what you’re consuming on a regular basis and make changes wherever possible.
Don’t Chew Gum
Chewing on gum or on non-food items like a pen or a pencil during the day gets your jaw muscles used to clenching. If you do either of these things regularly, it makes teeth grinding at other times more likely.
Get a Mouth Guard
A mouth guard is a quick and easy way to protect your teeth if you tend to grind them at night. Guards are made from rubber or plastic and prevent any damage to your teeth. A custom made mouth guard is the best option as it will fit properly and comfortably and won’t interfere with your sleep.
Deal with Underlying Stress
Teeth grinding is sometimes caused by stress. If you think worries or anxiety may be the reason behind your problem, there are a number of ways you can try to resolve it. Talking about your worries, either to a friend or a professional counsellor, is a great first step. Also consider cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which can help you recognise and stem negative thoughts before they take hold. A relaxing bed time routine can also ensure that you’re not drifting off to sleep feeling tense or on edge. You could try a warm bath, reading, deep breathing or a few yoga exercises.
Ask your Doctor About Suitable Medications
Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can help to relieve any discomfort in your head, face or jaw after a night of teeth grinding. This isn’t a solution but it will alleviate some of the pain you might experience. Also speak to your doctor about suitable medications. Taking a muscle relaxant before you go to bed may help to prevent teeth grinding in the night. Teeth grinding is a known side-effect of certain anti-depressants. So if you’re taking anti-depressants and teeth grinding is a problem, ask your doctor about alternatives.
Get Regular Dental Check Ups
Teeth grinding can cause serious problems for your teeth. You may experience cracked or chipped teeth. Any problems should be rectified by a dentist as soon as possible to prevent any further damage. It’s also possible to get dental treatment that works to stop you grinding your teeth altogether. These treatments reshape the chewing surface of your teeth and are a great, if expensive, option.
There are lots of ways to cope with teeth grinding. By following the above tips, teeth grinding may come to a halt.
This is a guest post by Sarah Kearns who is a Senior Communications Manager. She is the mother of three daughters and enjoys cooking and reading history books.