How to Quit Grinding Your Teeth
Occasional teeth grinding is often harmless, but individuals who engage in chronic teeth grinding may cause the teeth to wear down to the stumps, which can result in loss of teeth, loosening or fracturing. In severe cases, individuals who grind their teeth may need dental implants, bridges, crowns, dentures or root canals to fix the damage caused by teeth grinding. Seeking treatment may help to prevent oral health complications.
Teeth grinding is often a symptom of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. Individuals who grind their teeth as a result of a disorder should seek treatment. Symptoms of a sleep disorder often subside when patients use breathing machines and relaxation techniques prescribed by a medical professional.
Stress can provoke teeth grinding both while awake and sleeping. Teeth grinding can be reduced by eliminating stressors that often lead to anxiety and nervous habits. Patients who grind their teeth may need to attend stress counseling, engage in psychotherapy, begin an exercise program or obtain prescription muscle relaxants as directed by a physician to reduce stress that leads to teeth grinding.
Avoid Harmful Habits
Lifestyle habits can increase an individual's urge to grind teeth. People who grind their teeth should avoid chewing on pencils, pens and objects that are not food. Gum should also be avoided as it allows the jaw muscles to become accustomed to clenching, which can increase the likelihood of teeth grinding. Substances that increase energy or agitation such as caffeine, coffee, chocolate or colas should be avoided as well. Teeth grinding is also likely to intensify when people consume alcohol.
Train the Jaw
People who grind their teeth can engage in training exercises to stop clenching the jaw. It may help to position the tip of the tongue between the teeth to train the jaw muscles to relax. Holding a warm washcloth against the cheek in front of the earlobe also helps to relax the jaw muscles before sleeping. Physicians may also recommend wearing a mouthguard when sleeping to protect the teeth and reduce grinding.
It is common for people to clench and grind their teeth periodically. Prolonged teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can cause oral health complications and may damage teeth over time. People grind their teeth most typically during sleep and for a variety of reasons, such as stress and anxiety, missing or crooked teeth or the presence of an abnormal bite. Sleep apnea can also prompt people to grind their teeth in their sleep. Treatments for teeth grinding range from relaxation techniques and jaw exercises to physical therapy and dental night guards.