Stop Grinding Your Teeth! How to Prevent Teeth Grinding

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teeth grinding

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxing, takes a toll on your pearly whites and jaw. It can damage your tooth enamel, loosen your teeth, cause tooth sensitivity, and even wear out your jaw muscles. You may notice discomfort each morning or pain when chewing if you’re grinding your teeth at night. You might not even notice at all!

Individuals who suffer from bruxism may also experience headaches, earaches, joint discomfort in and around the jaw, cracked teeth, flattened teeth, a stiff or locked jaw, and even poor or disrupted sleeping patterns. Many teeth grinding patients complain of waking up in the middle of the night because of jaw discomfort. Chronic bruxism or teeth grinding is also a leading cause for temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ.

Grinding may lead to tooth decay because of damaged enamel or pain caused by teeth loosening and tired jaw muscles. Bruxing may exacerbate periodontal disease and cause jaw issues down the road. The long-term success of dental procedures or implants can be decreased from teeth grinding.

Teeth grinding may not seem like a big deal, but it can cause some serious damage and leave you with hefty dental bills. Friendly Dentistry is here to talk about why you might be grinding, and ways to prevent grinding in the future.

Teeth Grinding Causes

The most common and well-known reason for tooth grinding is stress. If you’re dealing with heightened stress from your job or personal relationships, it can come out (usually at night) in the form of grinding. Some people may experience pain or discomfort caused by teeth grinding, others may not even notice right away.

There are some other reasons you could be grinding your teeth, although they are less common.

  • Sleep apnea
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Tooth misalignment
  • Use of stimulants such as caffeine, tobacco, or amphetamines
  • Alcohol consumption

Be sure to speak with your dental health professional about your teeth grinding to avoid permanent damage. You may need to seek help in order to alleviate the stressors in your life to address the root of the issue.

The Most Common Reason For Tooth Grinding is Stress

How To Prevent Teeth Grinding

Your body can react subconsciously to stress and other factors by tooth grinding – especially in your sleep. Here are a few different ways to help prevent bruxism and alleviate the associated symptoms.

Catch yourself grinding your teeth and relax your jaw.

You can potentially stop your body from grinding your teeth if you catch yourself in the act. Try picking an everyday object, like a pencil, and every time you see the object, check yourself to make sure you aren’t grinding your teeth. If you are, take a few moments to relax and release your jaw muscles.

Teeth grinding may also include teeth clenching or jaw clenching when you’re stressed. Notice when you wake up with facial tenderness or jaw tenderness because of nighttime gnashing.

Reduce stress and anxiety.

Because most teeth grinding comes from stress, try to reduce the amount of stress in your life (this is good for your overall health too!). Pay attention to what’s triggering anxiety, frustration, or feelings of being overwhelmed. Try keeping a journal to help yourself notice heightened stress. Once you’re aware of the stressors in your life, it may be easier to catch yourself grinding and relax your jaw.

Get a mouthguard if you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep.

There are several types of mouthguards available to prevent teeth grinding. Mouthguards are also known as night guards, dental guards, or bite guards. They’re designed to protect your teeth each night from the effects of grinding.

Over-the-counter (OTC) or “stock” mouthguards are a generic model that can be bought at local drug stores or even athletic stores and may come in a few standard sizes. These are typically less expensive, but may not offer customization for a better fit. Try a “boil-and-bite” mouthguard. You can also purchase these over-the-counter at a local drug store, and they’re relatively inexpensive. They require a little more time, but they’re designed to fit your bite.

For the most comfort and customization, talk to your dentist about a personal mouthguard made just for you. Dental health professionals can take a high-quality mold of your teeth and bite in order to make a comfortable, more secure mouthguard. These are typically recommended if you have other health conditions such as sleep apnea.

Tooth alignment

You may be grinding your teeth each night because your teeth are out of alignment. Misalignment can cause discomfort, which leads to subconscious teeth grinding as a way to alleviate the irritation – imagine this as an annoying pebble in your shoe that you need to shake out.

Talk with your doctor to find out if your teeth grinding is caused by tooth alignment issues. Braces or other alternatives such as Invisalign may help ease your bruxism.

Ask us!

If you can’t figure out why you’re grinding your teeth and don’t know what you can do to prevent it, just ask us! Friendly Dentistry is conveniently located in Greensboro, North Carolina. We’re always here and ready to answer your questions about teeth grinding, oral discomfort, and health.

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