Grinding your teeth can lead to headaches and sore jaw muscles. Left untreated, the problem can wear down, fracture or loosen teeth, causing permanent damage.
Studies show that up to 31 percent of people are tooth-grinders. Many may not even know they have bruxism, as they only grind their teeth when they’re asleep.
So how can you stop grinding your teeth? Nighttime bruxism can be difficult to control, but some strategies can be effective.
Wear a Night Guard to Stop Tooth Grinding
One of the best ways to stop tooth grinding and protect your teeth against damage is to wear a night guard. A custom-fit bruxism appliance is a better choice than an over-the-counter device, as mass-produced bite guards often provide a poor fit.
For tooth-grinders with TMJ or sleep apnea, a specific type of oral appliance called an NTI-tss device is often recommended.
Try Stress Management to Stop Tooth Grinding
According to the Bruxism Association, nearly 70 percent of people who grind their teeth do so as a result of stress and anxiety. Meditation, counseling, biofeedback and therapeutic relaxation strategies can help stop tooth grinding related to stress. Some patients find hypnosis to be an effective treatment for bruxism.
Treat Issues Associated with Tooth Grinding
Bruxism can be a side effect of certain medications, including some antidepressants. When medication is the cause of tooth grinding, switching to a different prescription can solve the problem.
Bruxism is also associated with a range of medical disorders. Patients with sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and other underlying conditions may need treatment for their disorders in order to stop tooth grinding.
Other Self-Care Tips to Help Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Behavioral management strategies can be effective for some bruxism patients. The goal is to try to make facial relaxation a habit. Training the jaw muscles to relax by placing the tip of the tongue between the teeth during the day can help. Physical therapy exercises, facial massage and applying heat before bedtime may also be recommended.
And since stimulating substances can worsen bruxism, patients are advised to avoid caffeinated coffee, tea and carbonated drinks in the evening.
Of course, the tips given here aren’t intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you know you’re a tooth-grinder, or you suspect that you might have nighttime bruxism, you’ll need an oral health care evaluation to identify the fundamental causes and determine an appropriate treatment plan.
If you want to banish your bruxism problem for good, the professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah can help. As specialists in diagnosing and managing jaw-related facial conditions, Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield have been successfully treating patients with bruxism for over a decade. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office and schedule a consultation for expert solutions to help stop grinding your teeth.