Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding during sleep. You may grind your teeth or clench your jaw and may not even be aware of it. Bruxism during sleep should be attended to immediately to prevent further damage. Your dentist is the best person to approach to confirm the condition and for appropriate remedial measures since bruxism is not curable. Your dentist will recommend the right solution and you can try out some of the ways to stop clenching teeth that are detailed here.
Some people develop the unconscious habit of clenching their teeth and grinding their jaw. It can happen when a person is awake or when they are sleeping. You may do it occasionally or it may become a regular thing. In that case serious problems may arise which is why you should, once you get to know of it by learning to recognize the symptoms, seek immediate treatment from your dentist and also adopt ways to stop clenching jaw during sleep.
Ignoring bruxism could lead to complications such as jaw pain and swelling, damaged and broken teeth and headaches. Your teeth suffer maximum damage and you will be in for expensive root canal, bridge-crown and implant procedures. One possible worst-case scenario is progression to temporomandibular joint disease. You should learn to recognize symptoms or seek the help of a dentist to identify the problem and recommend ways to stop clenching teeth during sleep.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Bruxism has tell-tale symptoms. One common symptom is a sore jaw when you wake up. Another one is that you could have a constant headache. The enamel of your teeth wears out and that makes your teeth sensitive to hot and cold foods. Look at your teeth in the mirror. If they are chipped, loose or flattened then you have a problem that requires the attention of your dentist. If jaw clenching affects the temporomandibular joint then you could have a variety of symptoms such as pain in the jaw, neck and even your ears. In order to treat bruxism during sleep you will also need to know why it happens.
Causes of Bruxism
Bruxism may develop due to a variety of causes:
- You could be under stress and jaw clenching during sleep is one way stress finds expression.
- You could have sleep disorder or apnea during which you snore.
- Obstruction of bronchial passages could also cause stress leading you grind your teeth.
- Teeth grinding during sleep can also happen if teeth are crooked and misaligned.
- An aggressive personality type is more likely to be affected by bruxism.
- Some medications, alcohol and drugs may cause teeth grinding
There is no pill you can pop to make your bruxism go away. Bruxism during sleep needs a therapeutic approach in which you play a key part in managing the condition. Your dentist can do only so much; the rest is up to you.
What your dentist can do for bruxism
Consult your dentist and it is likely you will be given a mouth guard to wear when you go to sleep. It is made of soft rubber and it will prevent teeth from grinding against each other. However, the other underlying conditions require attention and for this, you must take control.
Stress and anxiety are underlying conditions leading to bruxism. You will need to spare time to analyze conditions that cause stress and manage tensions.
- Relaxation technique such as warm water tub bath is one thing you can do.
- Pranayam or breathing to relax and soothe your mind can prove very helpful in achieving a sense of calmness.
- You could try yoga when you wake up. It certainly helps in bringing about inner balance.
Take a stroll or workout
Enjoy a leisurely dinner instead of a hurried one and then go for a stroll. It helps you relax. You can start your day with a good physical workout. That too can remedy stress.
Warm pad for your jaw
Try using an electric heating pad set to just warm and set it against your jaw and front ear when you go to bed. If that feels uncomfortable then use a towel dipped in hot water. Keep it pressed against your jaws and ear by simply looping it under your chin and tying it over your head. Let it stay in place for 10 minutes.
Give it up
Put these things on your give it up list:
The simple reason is that these things worsen bruxism.
If you unconsciously grind your teeth when asleep it is likely you may also do so when you are fully awake. Develop mindfulness. Try to notice if you are unconsciously grinding your teeth when engaged in any task. Prevent teeth grinding by placing the tip of your tongue between your teeth. Instead of keeping your mouth fully and tightly shut, give your jaw some slack and when you close your mouth make sure your teeth are not tightly pressed against each other.
Sleep apnea is a causative factor. Find out by consulting your doctor if this is at the root of your bruxism problem. If so, you can:
- Reduce your weight if you are overweight. Exercise is good for health and for bruxism.
- Reduce sugar intake or stop it altogether.
- Give up smoking and alcohol consumption.
- Sleep on your side and keep your head and spine straight.
- Keep the bed angled by raising the side of the head side of the bed.
- Wear an oral appliance your dentist recommends to prevent blockage of air passageway.
If medications are the cause of bruxism your doctor may recommend alternatives and that should help. Then there are cases of chronic bruxism in which doctors may prescribe botox injection or anti-depressants as a short-term measure.
Try any or all of these ways to stop clenching teeth during sleep. Some of them should benefit you.
Bruxism in children
Children also grind teeth during sleep. However, the case of child grinding teeth during sleep needs a different approach. Hyperactive children may frequently clench teeth while asleep. Some children will outgrow this condition. However, it is best to take your child to your dentist who will conduct tests and ask questions. It does happen that your child may be under stress due to experiences at school. The reason for children clenching jaws may be psychological or dental. Your dentist will identify the cause and recommend suitable treatment. Some of the above home remedies may be tried on children who have bruxism.
Try the remedies outlined above and note if you have a positive experience. If none of these work and if your bruxism still persists it is time to consult your dentist again for further guidance.