Everyone deals with stress differently, whether that’s through doing yoga or watching some favourite TV shows. However, our bodies also manifest stress in several different ways, and some of these can be harmful when not controlled.
It’s true that stress contributes to many health problems, but why should you let it ruin your chances at a healthy smile? If you store stress in your neck, back, or jaw, like many people do, working to reduce stress will keep your muscles and teeth healthy and pain-free.
Consistent bruxism, or teeth grinding and clenching, causes many dental problems over time. Although some people already know about their noisy grinding habit, those who tend to clench may not be as aware. For either problem, though, the negative effects can easily build up.
Common Perils of Bruxism
In addition to teeth being worn down, some of the most common effects of bruxism include:
Painful or tender jaw in the mornings
Dull or constant aches in the head and jaw
Loosened tooth roots
Fractured and/or cracked teeth
Prolonged or untreated grinding has even been known to cause osteoarthritis. Luckily, bruxism doesn’t often go unheeded and has several simple solutions to combat its effects.
Possible Causes of Teeth Grinding
People who grind their teeth usually do so as a result of stress or anxiety, often as a subconscious habit during sleep. Family members and loved ones usually alert the teeth-grinder to their problem, but it’s also easy to tell when you keep waking up with a sore jaw.
Other causes of bruxism include an abnormal bite or even crooked and missing teeth. No matter what the cause, bruxism is a common problem with a simple solution.
Solutions and Treatments
Solving a burning problem includes stopping to consider what might be the cause of it in the first place. Are you often stressed as you fall asleep at night? Or have you always had a misaligned bite that causes you grief while you eat? Have you recently had a tooth problem that caused your natural bite to change?
These are all good questions to ask when attempting to discover the cause of your teeth-grinding. After you’ve narrowed down the possibilities, you can then move forward with specific treatment for the issue.
It may sound cliché, but exercising is a great way to reduce and release stress from the body. Participating in a physical activity for thirty-minute sessions 3-5 times a week will help ensure sleepiness at night instead of alert worrying.
Yoga, meditation, and other relaxing activities will also enable you to do more sleeping and less grinding in the long run.
Watch What You Eat
Your diet also greatly influences stress or teeth-grinding habits. Consider drinking smaller amounts of caffeinated drinks and beverages. Even reducing chocolate intake can help you achieve relief from mouth-tensing practices.
Because grinding has been proven to intensify after alcohol consumption, avoiding alcohol is also good advice for those who struggle with teeth-grinding. If you are already feeling pain, skip the beer and have a ginger ale instead.
Chewing gum and different chewy candies will also put strain on your already tightened jaw, so give your teeth a break by switching to breathe mints. Grinding your teeth makes them more vulnerable to decay to begin with, so keep well away from candy and caffeine.
Before bedtime, do some full body and jaw stretches. You can stretch your jaw in several different ways, but make sure that you take things slow and stop immediately if it creates pain.
During the day, help your jaw stay relaxed by noticing if you are clenching it or not. If you are clenching your jaw throughout the day too, keep the tip of your tongue between your top and bottom teeth. This enforces a relaxed jaw position and helps you be more conscious about relaxation.
Using a warm moist rag to relax your jaw muscles before bed will also loosen things up for sleep.
Obtain a Custom Mouthguard
You can find a cheap mouthguard in plenty of stores, but you usually get what you pay for. Instead of using cheap plastics that will easily break, melt, or decay, invest in a mouthguard that will last.
Teeth are fairly strong and even they have trouble dealing with consistent grinding. If teeth can’t deal with grinding, you can bet a low quality mouthguard will have problems, too. Wearing ill-fitting guards can also prevent you from sleeping well, too.