Many of us clench our jaws every now and then, especially during times of stress. But if you find yourself waking up with headaches or sore teeth and jaws, you may be grinding your teeth in your sleep without realizing it. While teeth grinding, or “bruxism,” is fairly common, family dentist Shahrooz Yazdani, DDS tells FabFitFun that it should never be taken lightly.
“The constant grinding puts stress on the temporomandibular joints located on the side of your head by your ears, which can lead to severe headaches and migraines,” Yazdani says. Teeth grinding can also wear your teeth down to the point that a root canal may be needed. Tooth loss is also possible in more severe cases.
The best way to treat bruxism is to find the source of the problem, which is something you can discuss with your dentist. However, there are some things you can do right now to help stop teeth grinding.
Practice stress reduction techniques
If stress or anxiety is the source of your teeth grinding, finding a stress-reduction technique that works for you could be helpful. For instance, Mark Burhenne, DDS, a sleep medicine dentist and founder of AsktheDentist.com, suggests trying yoga, guided imagery, breathwork, or mindfulness throughout the day or right before bed to reduce nighttime bruxism.
Use a mouth guard or splint
Going to your dentist for a custom fit mouth guard or splint can help protect your teeth from damage caused by teeth grinding. According to Burhenne, mouth guards are usually a good stopgap measure while you work to treat the root cause of your bruxism.
Try mouth taping
Mouth taping is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the practice of taping your mouth shut during the night. According to Burhenne, a large number of people breathe with their mouths open at night when breathing in and out of the nose is actually the best way to get restorative sleep. “Mouth taping is an easy, relatively inexpensive option that, in many cases, can reduce teeth grinding,” he says.
Avoid chewing on anything that isn’t food
Biting your nails, chewing gum, or chewing on your pencil can increase your risk of bruxism. Behavior such as these can get you into the habit of clenching your jaw even if you aren’t chewing anything. To avoid that, be mindful of any nervous habits you may have and avoid chewing on anything that isn’t food.
Cut back on caffeine
Soda, chocolate, and coffee can be great pick me ups during the day. However, caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger muscle activity, which can keep you up at night and contribute to bruxism. While you don’t have to cut coffee from your routine altogether, just be sure you’re having your last latte in the early afternoon.
Yes, you can get botox to alleviate teeth grinding! The botox is applied to the jaw muscle and basically helps the jaw muscles relax, resulting in less wear and tear of your teeth.
Be sure to consult your dentist with any questions regarding teeth grinding.
xx, The FabFitFun Team