Updated Jan. 2023
Do you grind your teeth at night? If your loved one has heard you grinding your teeth, or if you experience symptoms like jaw soreness or headaches, you might be clenching your teeth or grinding them while you’re fast asleep. And if that’s the case, it’s important to tackle this problem, which is referred to as bruxism. Otherwise, it could result in damage to your teeth over time.
What can you do if you find out that you’re a nighttime teeth grinder? Well, there are a few steps that you can take, so consider trying the following tips to get some relief.
Your dentist could take a look at your teeth and talk to you about your symptoms to determine if you’re definitely a teeth grinder. If he or she figures out that bruxism is indeed the cause of your symptoms, you might be given a custom mouth guard that you could wear overnight while you asleep. This appliance could help protect your teeth if you grind them, and because it’s customized to fit your unique mouth, it might be a better option than a one-size-fits-all store-bought mouthguard.
Another reason to talk to your dentist: If you have misaligned teeth, missing teeth, or a bite that isn’t properly aligned, those mouth problems might increase your odds of grinding your teeth at night. Not good! Thankfully, your dentist could help by providing you with the appropriate treatments that will give you the perfect smile and reduce your odds of dealing with bruxism.
If you’re grinding your teeth at night, you might also be clenching your jaw during the day, particularly during times of anxiety or stress. So it’s a good idea to become more mindful of the fact that you might be tightening up your jaw throughout the day and then carrying that into your sleep.
If you notice tension in your jaw and in your face, just take a moment and try to relax all of those muscles. You might open your jaw wide to see how that feels and to see if it helps release some tension. Or you could try to create a space between your top and bottom teeth. Perhaps try resting your tongue at the roof of your mouth or in between your teeth, and just take a few deep breaths in an effort to center yourself and release whatever was causing your muscles to become tighter than they should be. Ahh, that’s better!
Other things that you could do to give the muscles of your jaw a little break include avoiding tough foods that require a lot of chewing, and avoiding chewing gum. Try eating a diet containing softer foods for a few days to see if it might help make a positive difference in your clenching habits at night.
Stress and anxiety may cause you to unconsciously clench your jaw and grind your teeth while you’re getting some shuteye. Simply making time to unwind before going to bed might help you release at least some of that stress and promote a grind-free sleep.
Consider setting up a nighttime ritual that works for you, whether that involves avoiding electronic devices, meditating, lighting candles, taking a bath, listening to music, reading a book, or just spending time with your family. You could even help your muscles relax by placing a warm washcloth on the cheeks before bed. And, as you close your eyes to get ready to drift off to sleep, try to relax your jaw just as you did throughout the day.
Here are some common habits that might make you more prone to bruxism:
If you grind your teeth at night, rest assured that you aren’t alone. And it’s also important to know that there are several things that you can do to reduce or prevent bruxism and its effects.
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Don't hesitate to make an appointment with your dentist to discuss potential bruxism, and don't forget these helpful tips above to help your entire body, including your jaw, get a good night's sleep.