Do you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw or a dull, constant headache? You may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night. In the dental world, this is also referred to as Bruxism.
Not only is this a painful issue, but teeth grinding can do damage to your teeth. If it happens on a regular basis, it can erode tooth enamel and damage dental work. Grinding can also contribute to TMJ (temporal mandibular disorder) and periodontal disease.
There are several reasons why grinding happens. While stress or anxiety can be one cause, more commonly it is caused by an abnormal bite, crooked or missing teeth. It’s important to visit your dentist for an examination; but in the meantime, here are some ways to prevent grinding:
1. Wear a HARD mouth guard at night. Try to avoid universal store bought guards. A custom fit, hard night guard is your best defense against grinding/clenching. You can get custom made at your dentist. A mouth guard will also help protect your enamel when you grind your teeth.
2. Relieve the stress. If you think stress is the cause, try exercising, meditation, taking a warm bath, getting a spa treatment, or other ways you know will help you relax. Make an extra effort to relax right before bedtime.
3. Relax your jaw. Grinding all night can make your jaw feel sore. Try to relieve the tension throughout the day by giving yourself mini jaw massages. Also, try not to chew on non-food items (like the end of pencils or your nails) to give your jaw a break.
4. Be aware. If you find yourself grinding your teeth during the day, try to stay aware of it and relax your jaw as soon as you notice you’re doing it. If you think you are grinding your teeth at night, see your dentist so they can examine your mouth for the signs and recommend a course of action.