Let us start this blog by being perfectly honest: some people cannot stop grinding their teeth. The habit may take place during sleep when you cannot control what is happening. Many people are even unaware that they are grinding their teeth.
Teeth grinding can do serious damage to the teeth, gums, and jaw joints. For that reason, you should take every step to stop grinding or prevent the damage grinding causes.
Understand When You Are Grinding
Many people clench or grind their teeth during sleep without knowing it. Some also find that they clench or grind their teeth throughout the day. In order to understand when you are grinding, you must pay attention to your teeth at various times throughout the day. People who clench or grind during the day find that it is often occurring during exercise, commutes, chores, or concentrating at work or school.
If you are wondering whether you clench or grind during sleep, ask your dentist. Clenching and grinding always leaves visible evidence inside your mouth that your dentist will recognize.
Use Habit-Breaking Tactics
For daytime grinding, you may be able to stop the habit by consciously using some habit-breaking tactics. The best tactic is one in which you have a prompt or alarm set to get your attention periodically throughout the day. When prompted, you should stop what you’re doing and assess the position of your teeth. Are they tightly clenched together? Most people do not realize that their teeth should not be touching all the time. A mouth “at rest” positions the upper and lower teeth slightly apart.
When you find that your teeth are together, you should swallow and gently place your tongue between your teeth. Continue doing this at every prompt or alarm throughout the day.
Perform Stress Relieving Activities
For many, grinding the teeth is a manifestation of anxiety or stress. Because anxiety can lead to multiple health problems, including teeth grinding, you should attempt to control it.
Some stress relieving activities include prayer or meditation. Many people find relief from physical activity like a brisk walk or yoga stretches. Reading a book or playing a game with loved ones may reduce feelings of anxiety, and laughter is the best medicine.
If your anxiety is unmanageable, ask your dentist or doctor to refer you for professional counseling.
Wear a Mouthguard
Because a great majority of teeth grinding occurs when you are unable to control what you’re doing (during sleep), you may need to wear a protective mouthguard. There are countless varieties of mouthguards available in a wide array of shapes and materials.
One important caution we must give you is that some people experience an increase in muscle clenching when they wear an over-the-counter mouthguard. These OTC guards are usually moldable so that you can fit them over your teeth. However, this soft, squishy consistency may actually cause clenching. The material will provide protection for the teeth against friction as it creates a barrier between the upper and lower teeth. The problem is that it may not reduce muscle clenching, so symptoms like facial pain, headaches, and TMJ soreness may continue or worsen.
The best option for protection of your teeth, gums, and jaws against grinding is a hard acrylic nightguard made by your dentist and custom-fitted for your teeth.
See Your Dentist
There are several important you should see your dentist if you suspect that you are grinding your teeth. First, your dentist can report on the severity of the habit based on the evidence inside your mouth and the presence of any damage that has already occurred.
Your dentist can also prescribe medications to relax the muscles in order to help you stop the habit. Some dentists perform injections of Botox to temporarily paralyze the muscles responsible for grinding.
The most important thing your dentist can do is make you a professional nightguard that will protect your teeth, gums and jaw joints for many years.
More Questions about Teeth Grinding?
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today to schedule a consultation with one of our experts. We can assess your unique situation and help you take steps toward protecting your mouth from this dangerous habit!