Teeth grinding (or Bruxism) is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth. If you experience teeth grinding, you may unconsciously clench or grind your teeth together during the daytime or clench or grind them at night while you sleep. Many people are not even aware that they grind their teeth, but common side effects include tenderness in the jaw muscles, dental abnormalities such as broken or missing teeth, dull headaches in the morning and facial pain.
Doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes teeth grinding, but possible causes include:
- Anxiety, stress, anger, tension or frustration
- Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth
- A coping strategy or focusing habit
- Complications from other sleep problems, like sleep apnea
If you experience teeth grinding or suspect you might grind your teeth, there are, thankfully, several ways to stop it.
One of the most common and successful treatments for teeth grinding is to wear a plastic mouth guard while you sleep. These can be purchased at a drug store or from your dentist and are customized to fit nicely over your upper or lower teeth while you sleep. They are designed to separate teeth and avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding.
For daytime teeth grinders, becoming conscious of your teeth grinding is your best defense. When you notice yourself grinding or clenching your teeth, relax your jaw with your mouth closed and teeth apart. Practicing stress management, like meditation or listening to calming music, can help greatly with both daytime and nighttime teeth grinding. For teeth grinding related to emotions or stress, therapy or counseling may be recommended by your physician and can be extremely helpful in stopping teeth grinding.
Other self-care options to stop teeth grinding include avoiding stimulating substances before sleep (caffeine, nictonine), practicing good sleep habits, and, if you have a sleep partner, talking with them about being aware of any clicking or grinding sounds during the night so you can mention it to your doctor or dentist. Dental correction may help if your teeth grinding is related to a dental problem like an abnormal alignment. A dentist or doctor might prescribe medications like muscle relaxants or Botox injections if you don’t respond to other treatments.
The outlook for teeth grinding sufferers is positive, as there are many treatments. Teeth grinding can be an inconvenience to everyday life, but it is certainly preventable if you are proactive about seeking treatment and relief.