Teeth grinding (or its medical term “bruxism”) is the forceful and involuntary clenching of teeth. It can occur both while you’re awake and when you’re asleep.
Teeth grinding is more than just an annoyance. It can lead to serious headaches, oral health problems, pain in the jaw, and can eventually result in damaged or broken teeth, especially if it occurs regularly at night.
This post will go over a few tips that can help you get rid of teeth grinding and the problems that come with it. Let’s get started.
Wear mouthguards when going to sleep
Night-time mouth guards — also known as dental night guards or splints — are highly effective at managing teeth grinding during sleep. They fit over your teeth and essentially act as physical barriers that prevent your teeth from grinding against each other during the night.
This helps protect your teeth from excessive clenching forces and reduces jaw pain. Mouthguards can also help prevent cavities from occurring by protecting your enamel from excessive wear and tear that often results from teeth grinding.
Before investing in a mouthguard, make sure that you really have bruxism. If you want to learn more about bruxism, here’s some useful information on why you grind your teeth.
Mouthguards can be bought over the counter (OTC) or can be custom-made for you by a dentist. Of course, custom-made mouthguards tend to be more expensive than OTC alternatives, but are usually a better choice for most people due to their comfortable fit.
Custom-made mouthguards come in different thicknesses and are often made of soft materials, which allows you to sleep comfortably at night and wake up the next day smiling.
If custom-made mouthguards are not an option, try finding OTC mouthguards that are made from a soft material. OTC mouth guards that can be softened by boiling are also a good option.
However, keep in mind that OTC night guards are usually not as effective for teeth grinding as the custom-made ones. But their low cost means that they are still worth trying and may turn out to be a viable solution for people suffering from milder forms of bruxism.
Stay stress-free and relaxed
Roughly 70% of people suffering from bruxism grind their teeth due to mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Therefore, always consider taking a few minutes to do something relaxing before you hit the sack.
Taking a hot shower, reading your favorite book, doing a few basic breathing exercises, or just meditating for a while can all help release your pent-up stress and allow your jaw muscles to relax.
Stress reduction is not only the most convenient way to treat bruxism, but is also vital for your overall health. It’s a risk-free option and you should definitely consider trying it out.
Use mandibular advancement devices
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) are commonly used in managing sleep problems such as obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. But recent research is showing that these devices are also highly effective in treating both awake and sleep teeth grinding.
A MAD device is essentially two mouth guards (one for the upper row and one for the lower row of teeth) that are joined together. The device is worn at night and helps keep your jaw closed while you sleep.
These devices prevent snoring and apnea by moving the bottom jaw and tongue forward, which makes more space for breathing and is especially helpful for “tongue base snorers”.
This forward position of the lower jaw also helps reduce the effects of bruxism and protects your teeth by redistributing grinding forces. However, due to their rigid design, they are usually far less comfortable to wear than traditional mouth guards.
Discuss Botox with your doctor
A meta-analysis of four different studies has shown promising evidence of botulinum toxin (Botox) reducing the frequency and pain associated with bruxism. Botox injections are particularly helpful for people who are unresponsive to other treatments or suffer from severe bruxism.
Botox is usually injected into your jaw muscles, specifically the masseter. It then helps alleviate the symptoms of bruxism by allowing these muscles to relax.
However, according to some studies, more research is required to confirm the long-term efficacy and safety of using botox for teeth grinding. It is, therefore, best to discuss the benefits and possible side effects of using Botox injections with your doctor to get a better idea.
Try biofeedback therapy
Biofeedback is a modern technique that is used to help people become more aware of a specific behavior. The newfound awareness is then used to try to eliminate that behavior. A few studies on the effectiveness of biofeedback for treating both awake and sleep teeth grinding have shown promising results.
In this form of therapy, a biofeedback therapist teaches you how to achieve better control of your jaw muscles by using visual or auditory feedback from monitoring equipment. Despite the evidence for the short-term benefits of using biofeedback to treat bruxism, more research is required to assess its effectiveness in the long run.
Nonetheless, unlike Botox, biofeedback therapy is free of side effects, which is why it’s a good idea to discuss it with your doctor.