Teeth grinding, known by its clinical term bruxism, is the conscious or unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth. It is a common occurrence in children, but most of them grow out of it with time. However, bruxism can develop at any age. In most people, it usually happens unconsciously at night as rhythmic clenching and contractions of the jaw. During the day, it can occur when one is doing strenuous activities such as lifting heavy objects, or when mentally concentrating on a task like writing or driving.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
The biggest giveaway of teeth grinding is waking up with sore jaws. This means that you grind your teeth in your sleep. Another common symptom is having headaches. According to the Bruxism Association, people who grind their teeth are three times more likely to suffer from headaches.
Depending on how relentless your teeth grinding is, other symptoms could include stiffness in the shoulders and neck area, ear pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain/discomfort, enlargement of facial muscles, and sleep disorders. Also, teeth grinding causes wear in your teeth, which could lead to fracture, teeth loss, or leave your teeth exposed to dental issues in the future.
In children, teeth grinding is mainly caused by anxiety and teeth misalignment. This is also true in adults. Additionally, the Bruxism Association also regards stress, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and caffeine, depression, and sleep disorders as possible causes of teeth grinding in adults. There isn’t enough evidence to elucidate why the above might cause bruxism.
However, research has shown that bruxism manifests more frequently in people who snore or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, and in people who regularly use drugs and substances. Additionally, about 70% of adults with bruxism work in stressful environments leading to the correlation between stress and teeth grinding.
Treatment for Teeth Grinding
For you to know how to stop teeth grinding, it is important to find out what causes it. car
- Mouth Guards
This is the most popular and the most instant method of managing teeth grinding, and especially for people with chronic sleep bruxism. Mouthguards are custom-made plastic plates fitted over your bottom and top teeth. They protect your teeth against grinding and can help alleviate jaw pain or TMJ discomfort.
There are over-the-counter mouth guards, but these might not be as soft or as effective as custom made ones. Consult with your dentist before getting one.
This is a dental procedure that is done to reduce unhealthy or unnecessary contact between teeth. This procedure is recommended if teeth misalignment is the cause of bruxism.
- Stress Management Techniques
For the vast majority of people, teeth grinding is caused by stress. Some recommended stress management techniques include therapy, meditation, yoga, exercising, and so on. You can use an occlusal device like a mouth guard alongside stress management.
- Tongue and Mouth Exercises
Just like with any other muscle, your tongue and jaws could do with some exercises. They will help relax your ocular muscles and maintain proper jaw alignment.
- Open your mouth wide and touch the front of your teeth with the tip of the tongue. This will relax the jaw.
- Move your lower jaw from one side to another.
- Massage your jaw to release tension.
- Sleep Therapy
Sleep therapy would be beneficial to people whose bruxism is caused by sleep disorders. Usually, ocular devices like mouth guards will be used alongside sleep therapy.
- Biofeedback Therapy
Biofeedback therapy is a mindfulness technique that helps people gain control of their involuntary bodily functions. As stated above, when people are concentrating hard on a task, they do not realize they have clenched jaws. As such, biofeedback therapy would make a person aware of this habit and help them channel the concentration in a less harmful way.
Note: Research on this concept is limited.