Have you ever woken up in the morning with a dull, constant headache or sore jaw? If so, you may be clenching or grinding your teeth at night. This is a common problem and something that millions of people have to deal with. Teeth grinding is medically referred to as bruxism. Over a long period of time, it can cause significant damage to your teeth. If it continues to occur, the action will begin to erode the enamel on your tooth and damage any dental work that has been done.
There are a number of reasons a person may grind or clench their teeth. While anxiety and stress can be one cause, the problem may also result from missing or crooked teeth or an abnormal bite. While it is important to visit your dentist for an examination on a regular basis, there are a number of efforts you can use to help prevent issues with grinding and clenching.
Use a Mouth Guard at Night
Nighttime appliances are often a good aide to help with the effects of grinding at clenching. The fact is, most people grind and clench their teeth at night, even if they are unaware of it. The best appliances are ones that are custom fit for your bite. These can be easily made at your dental office. Over the counter appliances found at your local pharmacy are one size fits all and typically not the best solution, but in a pinch can offer some protection.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
If you believe you are grinding or clenching your jaw due to stress, try taking some time to meditate, exercise, get a spa treatment or do something else that will help you relax. Be sure that you take extra time to relax directly before you go to bed at night. This will help reduce the occurrence of this action.
Consciously Relax Your Jaw
If you grind your teeth throughout the night, you will likely wake up with a sore jaw. Try to relieve this tension during the day by actively trying to relax. It is also a good idea to avoid excessive chewing, e.g. avoid chewing gum or eating especially tough foods and opt for a softer diet for a few days to give your muscles a break they need from the tension of clenching and grinding.
Be Aware if You Begin Clenching Your Jaw or Grinding Your Teeth
During the day be aware of what you are doing. If you start to grind your teeth or clench your jaw make a conscious effort to stop yourself. Try to stay aware throughout the day and relax your jaw just as soon as you notice that you are doing it.
If you think that you have a problem grinding or clenching your teeth or wake up in the morning with a headache, you should discuss the issue with your dentist. They will be able to help you find more effective and long-lasting ways to stop this action. Clenching and grinding can lead to several deleterious effects including pain and damage to teeth that can sometimes be irreparable and costly.