Do you ever wake up in the morning with your jaw aching or your teeth sore? Has your dentist told you that you’ve got a lot of damage to your teeth and that you might need to consider getting crowns? Does your partner tell you that you chew or grind your teeth during sleep?
As many as 50 percent of American adults grind their teeth in their sleep, but there are steps you can take to deal with this problem. Read on to learn more about teeth grinding during sleep and what you can do to manage it.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Before we get into the different ways you can address teeth grinding in sleep, let’s talk some about what causes it. Although there is no single cause of teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, there are several factors that can increase your chances of doing this. One of the biggest risk factors is an abnormal bite or teeth that are missing or crooked.
Addressing any dental problems you may have can be a huge step in eliminating teeth grinding. But many people also grind their teeth more during times of stress or anxiety. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can also put you at greater risk for grinding your teeth during your sleep.
If you grind your teeth at night, one of the simplest things you can do to address this issue is to reduce stress in your life. Stress can cause tension in your jaw, which may lead to you grinding teeth while sleeping. There are several ways you can reduce your stress or manage stress better in less than fifteen minutes a day.
Consider meditating or doing yoga for just five minutes in the morning or evening. You may also want to start an exercise program; even just taking a walk around your block can boost your mood and make you feel better. You may also want to consider starting therapy if you’re dealing with major life challenges that are the source of your stress.
There are also a few lifestyle changes you can make that may help to reduce the amount of teeth grinding you do at night. For one, try to avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially within the hour before bed. Not only can these substances cause sleep disturbances that leave you feeling tired the next day, but they can also increase your risk of bruxism.
During the day, don’t chew on anything that’s not food, including pencils, pens, and even gum. Try to pay attention to the muscles in your jaw and, if you notice yourself clenching your teeth, stick the tip of your tongue in between your front teeth. This will train your jaw muscles to relax and help to keep you from grinding at night.
If stress management and lifestyle changes don’t help with your bruxism, your doctor may be able to prescribe you medications to help with the issue. One of the best treatments to manage bruxism is muscle relaxants. These medications can help to keep you from clenching your jaw and thus grinding your teeth at night.
You might be surprised to learn that Botox injections can be helpful in reducing bruxism, too. These injections keep the muscles in your face from moving and so keep you from clenching your jaw at night. Talk to your doctor about the best options for you and what possible side effects each medication will have.
One of the most popular ways to manage bruxism is to use a mouthguard. Just like the mouthguards you see professional athletes wearing, a mouthguard for bruxism fits over your teeth and cushions them. Even if you grind your teeth at night, you won’t damage them since they’ll be protected by the mouthguard.
In most cases, you’ll need to visit your dentist to get a mouthguard fitted for your mouth. Wearing an improperly fitting mouthguard could cause more problems for your teeth that could actually make your bruxism worse over time. Your dentist may also recommend a specialty mouthpiece that holds your jaw in a forward position to keep you from clenching and open your airways to address sleep apnea.
Did you know there are some exercises you can do to relax and stretch the muscles in your face to prevent clenching? For one of these exercises, gently close your lips, keeping your teeth from touching, and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Hold this position for as long as you can, making sure your tongue doesn’t touch your teeth.
You can also improve movement in your jaw by placing your hands on the spot where your lower jaw connects to your upper. Slowly open your mouth and hold it open for five to ten seconds. Slowly close your mouth again, and repeat for about ten minutes three times a day.
Learn to Manage Teeth Grinding During Sleep
Grinding your teeth at night can damage your teeth, injure your jaws, and even change the appearance of your face. Try to reduce stress in your life, and avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Facial exercises, mouthpieces, and medication can also be effective ways to reduce your teeth grinding during sleep.
If you’d like to learn more about teeth grinding during sleep, check out the rest of our site at The Dental Team. We are committed to excellence with compassionate care for our clients. Find a location near you today and start managing all your dental needs the easy, convenient way.