Do you wake up with headaches or sore jaws and facial muscles?
If so, you may have bruxism.
Bruxism is the unnoticed clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth.
Bruxism can happen in the day or at night, though the night time variety is more common. When night bruxism happens, you’re asleep when you grind your teeth. You often aren’t aware of it unless you experience the soreness and sensitivity the next morning.
Bruxism can cause severe damage to your teeth through chipping and cracking them and destroying the tooth enamel. Sometimes teeth become lose and the tongue can get caught causing indentations and possible scrapes.
Ways to Treat Bruxism
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with bruxism, what can you do about it?
Here are some possible solutions to lessen or eliminate the damage caused by the grinding or clenching of the teeth.
The cause of most patient’s bruxism is stress. Many of these solutions, therefore, focus on reducing the stress in the patient’s life. Sleep apnea, crooked teeth and sleep disorders have also been shown to be causes of bruxism.
- Banish Negative Thoughts: Keep a notepad by your bed and whenever you feel stressed, write down your anxious and negative thoughts. After writing them down, drop the pen and pencil and go to bed. This process can help you calm and let go of those negative night thoughts that causes you to clinch or grind your teeth.
- Be Mindfully Aware: As you drift off to sleep, become aware of the tension in you jaws. Whatever triggers your jaw tightness, consciously relax and loosen your muscles. If you wake up with a tight jaw, go back to relaxing it.
If you’re bruxism happens in the day, try placing the tip of your tongue between the front teeth. This helps relax the jaw muscles that lead to clenching.
- Ask for Help and Accountability: Have your spouse or significant other wake you up or give you a nudge whenever they observe you clinching or grinding your teeth.
- Avoid Stimulating Foods and Drinks Before Bed: Foods and drinks high in sugar and caffeine can keep your mind spinning and running while you’re trying to relax for sleep. Colas, chocolate, and coffee are big no-nos.
- Avoid Alcohol: Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
- Avoid Chewing on Anything That is Not Food: Chewing on pens and pencils as well as chewing gum will get your jaw muscles accustomed to clinching and grinding. This will increase your chances of grinding your teeth.
- Relax with Some Warmth. The coldness of night can cause our jaws to naturally stiffen and clench. The antidote to this, therefore is to keep your jaws warm. One idea for this is to place a warm washcloth on the outside of your cheek.
- Consider a Mouth Guard: Usually, if these above methods don’t work for you, your dentist will likely recommend a special night mouth guard to wear overnight.
There are many types of mouth guards out there. You can get a generic mouth guard at your local drugstore. If your bruxism is more severe and is causing noticeable damage to your teeth and gums, a custom made one would need to create at your dentist’s office. Custom made mouth guards fit better and more comfortably.
Bruxism, or the clenching of the jaw, can lead to potentially serious dental issues, such as loose teeth, headaches, and the damage to tooth enamel are the results of bruxism.
Lowering stress, getting accountability and using a night guard can all help you overcome bruxism.
If you struggle with bruxism and are tired waking up sore, contact us at Dr. Brian Britton’s office today and we’ll quickly fit you with the best fitting mouth guard so you can get back to getting restful sleep.