Stop Teeth Grinding by Reducing Stress

Stop Teeth Grinding by Reducing Stress

by Yenny (SU)

It’s 7:15 am and you are on your way to your first day at a new job. You’ve mapped out the route, added a little extra time, put on your best suit and even packed your lunch! “I’ve got this!” you’re thinking. But then, up ahead, you see it: traffic has come to complete standstill. Now What!? Peering over your steering wheel for clues, you turn the radio on to listen to the local news, which announces that there is a traffic pileup on the interstate. You confirm this when you look in your rearview mirror to see the flashing red and white lights of emergency vehicles. It’s been 15 minutes and you haven’t moved an inch, and you now realize you have a pounding headache and your teeth are clenched so tight you can’t even breathe through your mouth. Suddenly it becomes clear: your sleepless nights, the headache, your husband sleeping in the next room. “I am a teeth clencher!” you confess. “What now?”

Brush up on Bruxism

Grinding or clenching your teeth while you sleep is a medical condition called bruxism. Besides the stifling noises that grinding can emit, there are medical outcomes that are a result of bruxism, including headaches, tooth and jaw pain, loose or cracked teeth, and damage and wear to the tooth and enamel. Plus, the sleepless nights that leave you – and your loved ones – exhausted and anguished.

Why do some people grind their teeth? Some of the reasons include misalignment of the teeth, “muscle memory” from an active mouth (for example, if you chew gum all day), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), epilepsy, and ADHD. However, the most common reason that people grind their teeth in their sleep is the same reason are jaws are clenched during a traffic jam on one of the most important days of our lives – Stress! Here are some ways you can reduce stress and stop grinding your teeth.

1.     Take a chill pill. Catching up on the news before bed may not the best way to soothe your stressors. In fact, the news may even trigger some! Instead of turning on the news, try listening to calming music or investing in a white noise or wave machine to soothe you to sleep.

2.     Take me away! Warm baths can be soothing and help you relax before bed. Consider adding eucalyptus or lavender to your bath, or try adding Epsom salts, which are renowned for their healing qualities.

3.     Tea time! A warm cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea before bed can help calm you down, and also open up your throat and nasal passages to help you breathe for a good night’s sleep. Avoiding stimulants such as smoking, energy drinks, black tea, coffee, and alcohol before bed (or at all) can calm your very stimulated brain.

4.     Stay in the dark. Even the tiniest flashing light from your DVR or cellphone can force a light sleeper to toss and turn the night through. If your sleep-related stress is triggered by light, keep the curtains drawn and the lights off.

5.     A quick workout before bed. Before bed, consider a quick 10-20 minute cool-down. It could be by walking the dog (who will thank you) or stretching out and doing a short Yoga or Pilates routine. If you do something more strenuous, like running, be sure to take a nice warm shower before hitting the pillow to reduce your heartrate and wash away sweat and pollen.

6.     Talk it out. Since we know stress is the main trigger for bruxism, consider seeking therapy to talk it out. Therapy provides an outlet to identify, discuss, and resolve issues that can build up over time, and that can be a huge stress reducer.

7.     Night guards or Clear Braces. While not reducing stress, you can reduce the night grinding by wearing a night guard while sleeping. Similar to the clear, removable type of braces like ClearCorrect, night guards are fitted to your teeth and prevent friction or grinding. This may make for a better night’s sleep, which could give you the wherewithal you need to deal with stressful situations.

On rare occasions, bruxism may be a result of neurological disorders or a sign of an underlying disease, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. If you have reason to believe that you – or your loved one – might be a teeth grinder, or you simply want to maintain a healthy smile, plan on visiting your dentist as soon as possible.

If you live in or near the Eugene area, Dr. Ari Binder and the friendly staff of 360 Dental Group are committed to providing you personalized, lifelong dental care. If you would like to learn more how they can help you, call 541-689-1645 today.