Ways to Combat Teeth Grinding

Ways to Combat Teeth Grinding

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

Don’t look now, but you may be damaging your teeth and not even be aware of it.

It’s normal to clench or grind your teeth occasionally and unconsciously, but if teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) becomes a regular habit, especially when you’re asleep, it can harm your teeth as well as cause other oral problems. People grind their teeth for several reasons, including as a reaction to stress, a medical condition, or from having crooked or missing teeth.

Signs and Consequences of Teeth Grinding

How do you know if you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep? Some telltale signs are a sore jaw or constant headache. You might notice a shift in the positioning of your teeth, or that one surface of a tooth is slightly chipped or worn down. But most likely, your dentist will notice symptoms, such as a change or abnormality in your teeth since your last visit.

If left unaddressed, frequent or severe bruxism can result in loose or broken teeth – which may require crowns, implants, bridges, dentures, or a root canal to fix the damage. Grinding can even damage your jaw, alter the shape of your face, or affect your hearing.

How to Cut Down Teeth Grinding

Try these methods to prevent teeth grinding from damaging your smile.

Wear a Custom-Fit Night Guard

This is an appliance made of plastic or acrylic that fits over your top teeth and is worn during sleep to protect your teeth.

Reduce Stress

Try to exercise regularly to relieve stress, which is one of the more common causes of bruxism. Take a warm bath before going to bed, as the warm water helps relax your jaw muscles. Or, you can apply a warm washcloth to your jaw or use a heating pad. The key is to eliminate anxiety before you go to sleep. Another trick is to massage your jaw muscles whenever you’re feeling tense.

Say No to Alcohol and Caffeine

Research indicates that teeth grinding may worsen after drinking alcoholic beverages and coffee.

Chew Only Food

Strange as it may seem, you’re more likely to grind your teeth if you’re in the habit of gnawing on hard items such as pencils, pens, sticks, or pipes. It only makes your jaw muscles used to clenching.

Cut Down On Chewy Foods

Chewing gum, popcorn, steak, and any other food or candy that requires a constant chewing motion tends to put stress on your jaw.

Change Your Habits

While awake, you can consciously avoid teeth grinding by keeping your lips close and your teeth apart. Only allow your teeth to touch when you’re chewing food or swallowing. If you feel your jaw clenching, let the muscles relax and maintain that position.

Seek Professional Help for Severe Anxiety

Talking with a therapist can help relieve your stress and help eliminate a key trigger of teeth grinding.

Dental Expertise in Eugene, Oregon

If you have a problem with teeth grinding – or any other oral health issue – Dr. Ari Binder and his team at 360 Dental in Eugene, Oregon, can help. We’re experts at preserving your dental health – from routine cleanings, exams and dental implants, to emergency and scheduled tooth extractions.

Visit 360 Dental to achieve your most beautiful smile and enhance your confidence. Call us at (541) 689-1645 or schedule your appointment online today.