Teeth clenching or grinding, known as bruxism, can cause a host of issues, especially when it happens at night. You may not even realise you grind your teeth until symptoms appear, leading to a variety of side effects, including:
Jaw, face, ear and headaches
Loose or painful teeth, leading to wearing down or flattening of the teeth, not to mention cracked, damaged, or fractured teeth
Chewing and swallowing discomfort
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
Not to mention teeth grinding can cause sleep disruption, leading to low mood and increased levels of stress, which in turn causes teeth grinding! If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. They can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and excessive wear on your teeth.
There are certain actions you can take to reduce, or even eliminate bruxism, have a read below...
Stress and anxiety is a common contributor to teeth grinding, so relaxation techniques are a natural approach to help. There are many ways to find zen, and employing relaxation methods can play a big part in sleep hygiene, and getting better sleep can empower a person to respond to stress in a healthier way, therefore reducing bruxism.
Some individuals benefit from a hot bath, yoga or meditation, whilst others would opt for a massage to relieve muscle tension and pain points related to teeth grinding. A massage therapist or physical therapist may provide massage or demonstrate techniques that can be used at home to relax the jaw and nearby muscles.
Botox has historically been used in anti-wrinkle cosmetic treatments. Derived from the botulinum toxin, it paralyzes muscles temporarily, making it equally useful in treating conditions marked by muscle spasms, such as facial dystonia. When used judiciously, Botox limits a muscle's full range and wears off over time.
Now, research has shown that injecting a small amount into the muscles responsible for moving your jaw reduces clenching and the accompanying tension and aches. Botox for bruxism is injected into the masseter muscle just below your cheekbone and the frontalis and temporalis muscles in your forehead and temples.
Since other TMJ treatments are mainly palliative (such as pain medication or relaxation techniques) or invasive (such as replacing a portion of the joint or undergoing arthrocentesis), Botox is a promising non-surgical alternative.
Acupuncture isn't new. It's a time-tested form of traditional Chinese medicine that’s been around for thousands of years. It's used to reduce pain and anxiety, improve sleep, and boost general wellness. When it comes to acupuncture for bruxism, it can be used to help combat teeth grinding.
Western researchers have found acupuncture reduces pain sensation through direct stimulation of the nerve, which changes the quality of signaling along nerve cells. Further studies show acupuncture directly stimulates the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters, which are naturally occurring substances that help dampen and block pain perception by the brain.
If you're a night grinder, a mouthguard (also known as an appliance or occlusal splint) may be helpful. Some guards fit over the top teeth while others fit over the bottom teeth. They may be designed to keep your jaw in a more relaxed position or to provide some other function.
Night guards are available over the counter or custom-made by your dentist. While custom-fit mouth guards can be more expensive, they may be a better option, depending on the severity of your bruxism. Talk to your dentist to determine what’s the best fit.
Reductive coronoplasty is a dental procedure that may be used to reshape or level the biting surface of your teeth. It may be effective if your teeth grinding is caused by crowded, misaligned, or crooked teeth.
In some instances, a second procedure called additive coronoplasty may be used to build up the teeth. Your dentist can perform either procedure.
Try these TMJ exercises to relieve the strain induced by grinding your teeth. These movements may help increase mobility whilst reduce inflammation and tension in jaw joints.
Behaviour therapy is sometimes used to treat bruxism, whereby the individual is taught how to position their mouth correctly to avoid clenching and grinding. These movements can be avoided by keeping the lips together, teeth separate, and tongue touching the roof of the mouth. This position must be practiced over and over so that it becomes easy and natural. Biofeedback is a specific type of therapy that may help treat bruxism.
Your lifestyle choices can cause teeth grinding. Caffeine, alcohol, popcorn, alcohol, chewing gum and foods like peanut butter, that are hard to chew, can be triggers to teeth grinding and clenching, try and limit intake before bed time when possible.
Having a vitamin deficiency, such as vitamin D, calcium or magnesium, may be linked with teeth grinding, so it's important to follow a well-balanced, nutritious diet and take a multivitamin supplement if needed.
Did "you know" an average person spends 38.5 days brushing their teeth over their lifetime, and many diseases are linked to oral health, including heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes, be sure to brush twice daily!