Break the Habit of Grinding and Clenching Your Teeth for Good
Don’t let the grind(ing) wear you down.
Let’s face it: Most people deal with some sort of stressful situation on a daily basis. And often, they find that they are clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth, whether consciously or subconsciously, as a result of the stress or anxiety that they feel. Does this sound like you? Grinding teeth can have negative consequences on your enamel and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), so it’s ideal to stop this action in its tracks before it becomes a bad habit.
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is the medical term for grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. When it happens at night, we call it night bruxism. Bruxism is a habit that many people don’t even realize they have.
Some people experience bruxism’s unpleasant symptoms, such as a sore jaw, tooth pain, or and other dental problems, while many others feel no effects at all until a chip or crack occurs.
The good news is that bruxism can be treated, and most of the time, you can treat your bruxism on your own by changing some of your habits.
What happens when I grind my teeth?
The main thing that a bruxer needs to be aware of is that over time, bruxism causes the enamel to wear down. The enamel is the outer layer of the tooth that helps to keep the tooth strong and protects against bacteria.
Constant teeth grinding or jaw clenching can also lead to problems with your TMJ. Your TMJs are what connect your lower jaw to your skull. Patients who grind their teeth a lot often experience TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, which can include pain while chewing or when opening and closing the mouth. If you are having problems with your TMJ, it is important to see the team at Berrien Dental so they can assess its severity and form a treatment plan.
How can I treat my bruxism?
Most often, grinding and clenching is linked to stress, so the easiest thing to do is remember to relax. This tension might be an involuntary reflex, so sometimes the first step is taking note of what you are doing when it happens. When are you stressed out the most? Is it when you are focusing on a project or when you are driving? Learning what triggers your bruxism is half the battle when trying to rid yourself of this bad habit.
You can also help ease your bruxism by massaging your jaw. A simple massage of your jaw and temples with your fingers can help tremendously in relieving the tension you have built up in your facial muscles.
Sometimes, shifting your oral posture can work too. Ideally, when you are relaxed, your tongue rests on the roof of your mouth and your teeth are slightly apart; your mouth is closed, and you are breathing through your nose. So the next time you find yourself grinding your teeth, take note of your oral posture and realign yourself, and that should give you some relief from bruxism.
Another way you can help relieve stress is through progressive muscle relaxation. This technique teaches you how to tense up small areas of muscles and then, through isolated movement, completely relax that part of your body. The idea is to isolate small sections of your body and move through a cycle that works to release all the tension you are holding.
Talk to the Berrien Dental team if your bruxism continues.
If you have been working to eliminate stress but are still finding that you are grinding and clenching your teeth, make an appointment with the team at Berrien Dental to discuss your bruxism. There may be an issue with your TMJ that your dentist needs to check out. Remember, your jaw and teeth shouldn’t be in pain if everything is functioning correctly! So make the call to our office or go online and schedule an evaluation.