You Use Your Jaw More Than You Think
You probably are clenching your jaw more than you realize because youre not always aware of the function of your jaw. You might think that youre only using your jaw when youre talking or when youre chewing, but youre actually using your jaw all the time.
Swallowing to clear saliva causes your jaw to clamp closed. Setting yourself to lift a heavy weight also sets your jaw. Even breathing can depend on your jaw clamping shut, especially if you have sleep apnoea and your body is working hard to hold your airway open.
Why does it matter how often youre using your jaw? Every time you use your jaw, you can trigger unconscious jaw clenching.
All The Signs Of Teeth Grinding:
- stiffness or pain in your jaw
- poor sleep
- worn-down or broken teeth
Bruxism often worsens at night, since youre not conscious enough to notice and stop the behavior. If you often wake up feeling groggy and achy in your head or jaw, bruxism may be the culprit.
Because teeth grinding is commonly associated with stress or anxiety, theres no quick fix but stress management techniques, along with certain tools, can help make it totally manageable.
Mouth Guard For Teeth Grinding
If youre grinding your teeth in your sleep, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard to help reduce contact between your upper and lower teeth. This will help reduce wear and tear on the teeth. It may also help to eliminate jaw tightness and pain.
Mouth guards for bruxism can be made of several materials, ranging from hard acrylic to soft plastics. There are many over-the-counter brands of mouth guards available, although it might be preferable to have one custom made to your mouth.
Custom-made mouth guards are a more expensive option, but they allow for varying levels of thickness based upon the severity of your teeth grinding. Theyre also more effective at reducing jaw strain and helping your jaw align naturally than store-bought options.
Talk to your dentist about which type is best for you.
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Do Children Grind Their Teeth
The problem of teeth grinding is not limited to adults. Approximately 15% to 33% of children grind their teeth. Children who grind their teeth tend to do so at two peak times — when their baby teeth emerge and when their permanent teeth come in. Most children lose the teeth grinding habit after these two sets of teeth have come in more fully.
Most commonly, children grind their teeth during sleep rather than during waking hours. No one knows exactly why children grind their teeth but considerations include improperly aligned teeth or irregular contact between upper and lower teeth, illnesses and other medical conditions , and psychological factors including anxiety and stress.
Grinding of the baby teeth rarely results in problems. However, teeth grinding can cause jaw pain, headaches, wear on the teeth, and TMD. Consult your dentist if your child’s teeth look worn or if your child complains of tooth sensitivity or pain.
Specific tips to help a child stop grinding their teeth include:
- Try massage and stretching exercises to relax the muscles.
- Make sure your child’s diet includes plenty of water. Dehydration may be linked to teeth grinding.
- Ask your dentist to monitor your child’s teeth if they are a grinder.
No intervention is usually required with preschool-age children. However, older children may need temporary crowns or other methods, such as a night guard, to prevent the grinding.
How To Stop Clenching Your Teeth
One of the most recommended ways to moderate clenching your teeth, especially at night, is to wear a bite guard.
Your dentist may refer to this as a night guard because you will wear it specifically at night to reduce clenching or grinding. However, if you have a high-stress job, or experience symptoms like headaches and jaw pain during the day, your dentist may ask you to wear the bite guard more often or during daylight hours.
A bite guard is similar to a clear plastic retainer or clear aligner that fits over your teeth and prevents them from coming in direct contact with each other. It is like a cushion to help your bite fit together better, and it cushions your teeth and prevents harder surfaces from crushing, grinding, or straining the enamel and gums.
You may be able to find a good mouthguard at your local drugstore, as many options are sold over the counter. If you suffer from serious or regular bruxism, whether during the day or in your sleep, your dentist may recommend a customized mouthguard.
Your dentist may also recommend other options.
Use Ice Packs or Warm Compresses
Reducing muscular stress in your face can reduce how much you clench your jaw, especially at night. Some companies make special ice packs that can wrap around your face and ease pain and stress from clenching your teeth and jaw.
You may also use a warm compress on your face at night, just before you go to bed, to reduce muscular stress.
Make Dietary Changes
Correct Misaligned Teeth
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When To See A Dentist Or Gp
See a dentist if:
- your teeth are worn, damaged or sensitive
- your jaw, face or ear is painful
- your partner says you make a grinding sound in your sleep
The dentist will check your teeth and jaw for signs of teeth grinding.
You may need dental treatment if your teeth are worn through grinding to avoid developing further problems, such as infection or a dental abscess.
See a GP if your teeth grinding is related to stress. They’ll be able to recommend ways to help manage your stress.
How Do You Know You Have It
People who suffer from jaw clenching may be unaware of the habit because it typically occurs while they sleep. Common symptoms that people experience with clenching/grinding habits are morning symptoms of a dull headache, jaw muscles that hurt or are tight, trouble opening the mouth wide, long-lasting pain in the face, damage to the teethworn tooth surface, loose teeth and broken dental fillings. Sometimes, partners or parents can hear the grinding noises at night.
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Do Jaw Exercises During The Day
If you would like to avoid grinding, you can be starting daily jaw exercises to strengthen your jaw and help to recover the pain you are feeling as a result of clenching it all the time. Heres a great list of jaw relaxation exercises to undertake reception.
Watching yourself during a mirror, gently open and shut your mouth, dropping your jaw straight up and down. Look for small improvements within the jaws range of motion as you practice this exercise from day to day. Repeat it each morning and night.
Do not do that exercise when your pain is severe or if it makes your pain worse.
Practice Jaw Relaxation Exercises For Sleep
One of the easiest exercises that can help you learn to relax your jaw when sleeping is just opening and closing your mouth about five times in a row. Try this several times throughout the day- it will not only teach how to relax your jaw muscles but also how to open up those tight spots where you might be clenching your jaw in the back.
Another exercise that you can try is to push out and then suck in on your cheeks while holding for a few seconds each time. This works just like how we would naturally yawn, but with more force behind it so you are pushing and pulling at both ends of where they meet in order to open up and relax your jaw muscles.
Finally, you can also try to rotate the head in a circle each way about five times while keeping how relaxed as possible. Try these exercises until they become second nature- it might take some practice at first but eventually you will get how to relax your jaw when sleeping so that you never have to worry about teeth grinding again.
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Jaw Clenching And Teeth Grinding
Jaw clenching at night can result in grinding of your teeth. If you feel like your teeth are floating or becoming loose, this could be an indication that your teeth are being ground against each other at night through jaw clenching. Long term, grinding your teeth at night can wear down your teeth, chip and crack your teeth and even result in tooth loss.
How To Stop Your Anxiety Jaw Pain
There are some quick fixes to control jaw pain occurring due to anxiety. The best place to start is with a mouth guard to prevent any clenching during sleep. There are several mouth guards for those who grind their teeth at night, and this can provide some relief for those with persistent anxiety.
Greater mindfulness can also provide some relief. Pay attention to your anxiety. When you feel yourself getting stressed, see how your mouth feels. If you find that you’re clenching, stop. Eventually, you can train your brain to stop automatically clenching your jaw during periods of intense anxiety.
Yet the key is going to be to stop your anxiety altogether because only then will you automatically start to relieve tension around your mouth and facial area. You can try traditional options, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Herbal strategies.
Yet there are other options out there that have very high success rates and can be completed in the comfort of your own home.
Anxiety causes muscle tension, clenching teeth, and other symptoms that can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw. Mindfulness can help individuals gain better control over their jaw discomforts, although a long-term anxiety treatment is the only way to help control the factors that lead to jaw pain.
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Back Off The Grind: Stop Nocturnal Bruxism
We know only too well how bad teeth grinding can be and if you currently suffer from this nightmare of a problem, we sympathize with you. However, the great news is that just by clicking and reading this article you are already closer to discovering some of the best ways to stop the discomfort and pain caused by grinding your teeth.
Teeth grinding, or nocturnal bruxism as it is also known, is a condition where you unintentionally and in a lot of cases, unconsciously grind your teeth together. It affects well in excess of a million adults and children across the world and if you suffer from this condition, you will understand just how badly it can play havoc with your life and health.
In the following article, you will get to know some really powerful and helpful tips and advice to stop you grinding your teeth. Before we bite into those though, it is best to help you understand better why you actually grind your teeth.
What Causes Teeth Grinding Particularly At Night
There are two main types of teeth grinding
Daytime/Awake bruxism: Daytime bruxism is typically connected to tension, stress and anxiety
Night-time/Asleep bruxism: Night-time bruxism on the other hand is more likely connected to a chewing action related to sleep.
Although there is a wide array of different views and opinions in the medical world as to what causes teeth grinding, most suggest that it is mainly associated with anxiety and stress. Further to this though, teeth grinding has also been associated with sleeping position or style changes, problems with teeth alignment, heredity-related factors and other problems with biting.
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Its Not All About Stress
One of the common causes of jaw clenching is stress. In times of stress, you might clench or grind your teeth the same way that others might chew on their fingernails or other objects.
If this is a cause of your jaw clenching, then something like meditation or other stress relief techniques could help, but stress isnt the only, or even the primary cause of teeth clenching.
Bottom Line: Be Ready To Take A Close Look At Your Emotional Well
Its not always clear exactly why a person starts clenching or grinding. But sometimes its obvious. Stress can be a major contributor.
Its very important to understand the onset of pain, Dhadwal said. Patients usually circle back to a stressful moment in their life, and I tell them: I can prescribe you a custom-fit appliance, but if you dont take care of whats going on, you might have difficulty managing the situation.
She regularly refers patients to psychologists and works closely with mental health professionals so patients can treat not only whats going on in their mouth but also find strategies for managing stress.
These methods can include lifestyle habits, such as increasing exercise meditation and spending more time outdoors, as well as treatments like therapy and medication.
Dhadwal said shes personally seen an uptick in grinding and clenching since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
I cannot tell you the number of patients coming in, and when I ask, When did this start? they say, March or April, she said.
Theres absolutely nothing wrong with seeking mental health help or addressing your stress. If theres ever a time to make your mind a priority, its now.
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Why Do Dental Patients Wear Night Guards While They Sleep
Our patients primarily wear night guards to prevent tooth damage and to ease the strain on the temporomandibular joints. They also wear them to ease the headaches and pain in the jaws bruxism causes. Our patients at Dentists’ Office of The Hudson Valley say they feel much better without chronic headaches. It may take a few nights to get comfortable with your mouth guard, but the initial discomfort is worth the joy of waking without pain or having to fix a broken tooth because of nighttime bruxism.
What Else Should I Ask My Provider About Bruxism
If you have bruxism, ask your provider:
- Do I need a night guard?
- Do I need dental treatment to fix teeth problems?
- What other treatments can help stop teeth grinding?
- Will I need a sleep study to diagnose bruxism?
- What medications can help?
- Will there be long-term effects from teeth grinding?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, happens when you clench and grind your teeth. It can happen when youre awake or asleep. Sleep bruxism can cause more problems since you dont realize youre doing it. Without treatment, teeth grinding can lead to problems with your teeth, jaw muscles and jaw joints. If you wake up with headaches or have jaw soreness, see a healthcare provider. They can find the right treatment for you, which may include a night guard for sleeping. Stress management can also help reduce teeth grinding.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/07/2021.
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Are Cracked Teeth On The Rise
Anxiety from the COVID-19 pandemic can, in some cases, literally be tooth shattering for people. Media reports from across the nation are quoting dentists who are seeing a major rise in patients with cracked teeth, fillings or crowns. Stress and anxiety can manifest itself in teeth grinding at night and many people dont realize theyve started doing it. People are socially isolated, staying at home, often in front of a screen they get little physical release for the tension building up in them as many activities are canceled. The tension comes out in jaw clenching during the day and teeth grinding at night, both of which are very damaging to teeth.
How To Focus On Your Priorities Using Mental Health Management
A part of this blogs goal is to help dissolve issues with stress, anxiety, and other mental health problems that may be unresolved. While it is true that teeth grinding can be both medical and dental problems, many doctors consider psychological health management as the best way to address this concern. Teeth grinding can be eliminated by unlearning the habit of grinding your teeth while youre stressed. Moreover, you can focus on your priorities in life. It may be best to consult a mental health care professional for more methods and techniques for your healths future.
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Sleep Bruxism: Mouth Appliances
If youre clenching your jaw in your sleep, appropriate intervention might include mouth appliance therapy and medication. A dental mouthguard might be prescribed by your dentist to protect your teeth and jaw. This is worn at night and works by creating a barrier between upper and lower teeth while you are grinding your teeth in sleep. It can prevent tooth wear, tooth injury and reduce night-time clenching. While this treatment may not cure bruxism, the relief it provides is phenomenal.
Wear A Gum Shield To Bed
One way to avoid jaw clenching is by wearing a gum shield at night. The shield will protect your mouth from injury and stop you from clenching or grinding your teeth. Its also worth noting that if you wear one while sleeping with braces on then itll help prevent tooth damage too!
A gum shield can make all the difference for how well rested and how healthy your jaw feels in the morningIts not just about how many hours you get but how comfortable those hours are too!
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Exercises To Relax The Jaw And Facial Muscles
Jaw joint stretches and facial exercises can help relieve tightness in the jaw and increase range of motion. Heres some exercises you can do:
Jaw joint stretch: Try relaxing the jawby resting the tip of your tongue behind the upper front teeth and lowering the bottom of the jaw so that the lower teeth move away from the upper teeth. This will help stretch and relieve muscle tightness of the jaw and neck.
Manual jaw opening: slightly open and close your mouth several times to warm up. Next, place your fingers on the top of your front four bottom teeth and slowly pull down until you feel a slight discomfort on the tight side of your jaw. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then slowly release your jaw back to the starting position.Repeat this stretch 3 times and slowly work your way up to 12 repetitions.
Smile stretch: look at a mirror and give your widest smile you can without feeling tightness or pain. While smiling, slowly open your jaw an additional 5cms, inhale deeply through your mouth and exhale while letting go of the smile. Repeat this process 10 times. This exercise aims to help eliminate stress in the facial muscles, jaw and neck.