The term “bruxism” is what dentists refer to as grinding your teeth at night. Over 8% of adults suffer from it and it can cause future pains like headaches and tooth damage. As your local family dentist, we don’t want you to have to battle bruxism alone. If you’re looking for ways to avoid grinding your teeth at night, this guide is for you.
We’ll say it again. Relax.
Take a few deep breaths before bed. Stress is arguably the number one cause of grinding your teeth at night so if something is bugging you, try to breathe it out. Your subconscious has been said to continue working on things that bother you or cause stress, and your body then acts on it by grinding your teeth.
Everyone’s remedy will be different. You may need to visit a professional psychologist to vocalize your stressors and work through them. Another idea is to adjust your nightly routine. Do something that calms you down and puts your mind at ease. Avoid high amounts of blue light or intense mental stimulation. You could try watching a relaxing TV show, reading a book, listening to music, meditating, or simply enjoying 10-15 minutes of doing nothing.
Protective options are sometimes the most intimidating for people, but they shouldn’t be. Custom night guards are completely normal and can save you from a lot of pain!
If you’re suffering from bruxism we may suggest a night guard to help prevent further damages or pains. We don’t recommend wearing a store-bought night guard as they won’t fit your mouth perfectly and can cause future complications. All of our night guards are custom made to fit you specifically so that you can get the best night of sleep every night.
Oftentimes teeth grinding is associated with sleep apnea. A custom mouthpiece might be able to help this as well, so be sure to check with your sleep apnea dentists during your next routine check-up.
Taking five minutes to gently massage your jaw can help alleviate pressure and jaw pain.
As your Waterford family dentist, we recommend incorporating a hot washrag because the heat works to relax your mouth the same way you’d relax a muscle. If you don’t want to use a rag, you could try a heating pad or taking a hot bath or shower. We usually recommend the hot bath or shower because taking one at night can help calm you down for a better night's rest.
Do you chew on your pens? Or pencils? Or other thingy-ma-jigs that aren’t edible?
Chewing on objects can cause tooth pain and the need for cosmetic dentistry in the future. On top of that, gnawing on objects can confuse your mind. When you munch on things that aren’t food throughout the day, your brain and jaw get used to clenching. This becomes a problem at night when you’re trying to relax, and your brain doesn’t know whether to bite down on something or not. To prevent this, try to find other ways to fidget, or chew on soft foods like bread or yogurt.
Our bodies react in unique ways to things like caffeine and alcohol. You may find that after a late-night brew or glass of wine, you’re prone to grinding your teeth at night a lot more. Or if you drink a lot of caffeine throughout the day, you may be feeling its ramifications while you sleep.
To save yourself from morning headaches and a painful jaw, try cutting these beverages out for a few days.
Of course, you still have to eat. When we say to avoid chewing we mean chewing on things like snacks, gum, or other candies. Foods like steak, popcorn, and other extremely chewy things also might exhaust your jaw and hurt your teeth if you’ve been grinding them at night.
You don’t have to cut these foods out of your diet forever, but until you’re able to get back on a normal sleeping routine you might want to avoid them. Cutting them out won’t instantly cure you of bruxism, but it will help your jaw relax during the day, which can keep it from agitation at night.
If you didn’t know, healthy exercise and hobbies can help alleviate stress. Because most bruxism is caused by stress, these two tips are huge.
Fitting an exercise routine into your day (at least 15 minutes!) can work wonders for your mental health. A captivating hobby also gives you something to think about or look forward too, which works in battling stress. Rather than lying awake at night with worries, you can think about things you enjoy like sports, projects, or creative ideas.
It may sound kind of crazy, but hypnosis is a way to help with bruxism. Don’t think sitting in a chair with a magician waving a spinning dial--it’s not like that. According to The Bruxism Association, hypnosis works as a behavioral approach to teeth grinding. By training your brain while awake, you can train your brain to not grind your teeth while asleep.
As your Waterford, MI family dentist, Your Winning Smile wants to make sure all your dental needs are met. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us online or by phone at (248) 681-8100. If we haven’t met you yet, feel free to reach out and request an appointment!