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Bruxism: How to stop grinding your teeth at night

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Stop grinding your teeth

Do you find yourself tightly clenching your teeth in heavy traffic, at work, or while dealing with stressful situations? Does your partner complain you loudly grind your teeth at night? Though it may seem like no big deal, you could have a subconscious condition called bruxism. Brought on by stress and anxiety, bruxism not only causes jaw pain, headaches, jagged sleep, and neck and shoulder tension, it can also cause broken teeth, facial misalignment and other temporomandibular damage. Here are some tips to help you quit grinding your teeth.

Woman with toothache

Tips to stop grinding your teeth

Follow these tips to help reduce your teeth grinding – and avoid spending thousands of dollars in dental repair.

1Manage your stress

Since stress is a large factor in bruxism, take proactive measures to deal with your daily stressors. Whether it be exercise, 20 minutes of meditation, a weekly massage, journaling, changing your perception of stressful situations, or therapy, commit to incorporating one stress-reducing strategy every day.

2Wear a nightguard

Though sleeping with something in your mouth may seem daunting, nightguards can alleviate grinding and resulting aches and pains – not to mention damage.

"The use of a dentist-made guard or an over the counter guard can help relax the muscles of the jaw and may help counteract the effects of bruxism. Over the counter muscle rubs for jaw pain can also help along with the guards," suggests Dr Mehta.

Talk to your local pharmacist about the over the counter products and, if they aren't effective, talk to your dentist about a tailor-made guard.

3Do not eat or drink right before bed

According to Dr Mehta, even a bedtime snack like milk and cookies can aggravate bruxism in some people. He suggests not eating or drinking – particularly alcohol – late at night.

4Relax your jaw muscles

Even if you feel like you are getting a good handle on your stress, your subconscious may still incite your jaw to clench. The website Bruxism101.com recommends relaxing your jaw throughout the day and make facial relaxation a habit. Set your watch or cell phone to beep every hour to check your facial tension and practice loosening your jaw.

5Unwind before you go to bed

"Do not work right up to the time you go to sleep. Relaxing before falling asleep or doing specific relaxation exercises before bed will help lower the intensity or the frequency of bruxing," Dr Mehta advises.

Give yourself a half hour or even an hour before falling asleep to put work or some other chronic stressor out of your mind. Take a long bath or do light yoga to loosen your mind and your body. And if the news tends to rile you or causes anxiety, don't watch TV before hitting the hay.

6Check your medications

Since a side effect of some medications is teeth grinding, Dr Mehta suggests that you talk to your doctor regarding your use of herbal medicines, vitamins, minerals or prescribed medications that may be contributing to your bruxing.

7Do your research

Knowledge is power, so talk to your dentist about bruxism and read any materials he or she provides, and do your own investigating.

Visit the following websites for more information on bruxism and dental health: 

More dental tips

Ouch! What you can do about sensitive teeth
10 tips for a better smile
The truth about natural toothpaste

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