Do you wake up with a throbbing headache and aching in your jaw? Does your bed partner complain about the crunching or grating sound you make at night? If so, you might be grinding your teeth at night. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can be caused by a variety of factors. Most grinding is caused by missing or broken teeth or an abnormal bite. Stress and sleep disorders can also contribute to the likelihood of teeth grinding at night. While occasional grinding is normal and harmless, grinding on a regular or nightly basis can lead to the damage of your teeth and other oral health problems. To stop your night grinding and reduce the risk of damaging your teeth, try these six simple tips.
Get a Night Guard
Mouth guards- similar to those you might see your favorite athletes wear on the field or on the court- are a great line of defense against night grinding. While night guards are available at drug stores, it’s best to opt for a mouth guard fit by your dentist. That way, your oral appliance will fit well and will help to address any dental problems that may be causing your grinding habit.
Since stress can contribute to grinding, be sure to try to reduce your stress level in any way possible. Take up yoga, go to the gym, get a massage, or take a warm bath to calm yourself down. Make a point to relieve yourself of your daily stress well before bedtime in order to avoid grinding your teeth through the night.
Give Your Jaw a Break
Try to give up any unnecessary chewing- gum or tobacco chewing, gnawing on pencils, etc. Excessive chewing can lead to clenching of the jaw and grinding through the night out of habit. Gum, tobacco, and other chewing can also increase soreness of the jaw, which makes grinding and other jaw movements more painful.
Sooth Your Jaw
To help keep your jaw loose and relaxed, try holding a warm washcloth to your jaw before bed. Apply the washcloth against your cheek below your ear to sooth your jaw muscles and reduce the likelihood of grinding as you sleep. You can also try giving yourself jaw massages to further reduce the tension around your mouth that you may be experiencing.
Cutback on Alcohol and Caffeine
While a glass of wine or a latte might not necessarily cause grinding, they both can intensify the problem. Caffeine causes increases in activity and alertness, which can make it difficult to get your jaw as relaxed as it needs to be to get a night of bruxism-free sleep. Alcohol is also known to make grinding more frequent and intense, so it is best to cut back on both your alcohol and caffeine intake.
Visit Your Dentist
Grinding is usually caused by an underlying dental problem, so it is important that you schedule an appointment with your dentist to address any problems that may be contributing to your bruxism. Your dentist will be able to help you correct problems with your bite or fix any broken teeth you may have and help you get your entire mouth to its healthiest state.
Rest assured, night grinding can be a thing of the past if you make some simple adjustments to your routine and consult your dentist. Before you know it, you will be sleeping peacefully and waking well rested and ready to take on the day!
If you have questions about night grinding or any other dental concerns, contact the friendly office of Dr. Guy Peabody. 831-457-0343