Many people who clench their jaws and grind their teeth during their sleep are unaware that they are doing it.
However, these are only symptoms of broader dental and physiological issues that, if unchecked, can have major consequences not only for your dental health, but also your entire sense of well-being.
Clenching and grinding are often symptoms of a condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD).
Teeth grinding is also called bruxism, and it tends to run in families. Stopping teeth grinding can be a challenge. Afterall, it happens when you’re asleep.
But figuring out how to stop grinding your teeth is vital for your overall health. Read on for tips that will help you relax your mouth and sleep better.
Warning Signs of Teeth Grinding
The biggest symptom is waking up with a sore jaw or a headache. If it only happens sometimes, you might be dealing with occasional teeth grinding.
But if you wake up with pain in your jaw most days, that’s a warning sign.
If you sleep with a spouse or partner, ask them if they’ve noticed anything odd. Some partners can hear you grinding your teeth in your sleep.
In some cases, you can chip, crack, wear down or otherwise damage your teeth. A dentist can examine you and check for damage related to clenching your jaws and grinding your teeth.
Sleep apnea is also associated with bruxism. Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition where you don’t breathe properly during sleep.
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Meditating before you go to sleep at night can help you relax. If you’re relaxed, you’re less likely to grind or clench your teeth.
Sometimes, missing teeth or other dental abnormalities can cause the problem. In that case, talk with your dentist about options for replacing the teeth.
In many cases, an occlusal splint (or Michigan splint) can help. But if you aren’t comfortable with that option, say so. There may be alternatives.
Stopping teeth grinding can also be a matter of just waiting things out. If your stress is acute, the problem can go away on its own.
Changes to Diet
If you can’t wait, you can try changing the way you eat and drink. Caffeine may make you more likely to clench your teeth. It can also cause anxiety, and that anxiety makes it harder to rest.
Also avoid alcohol. Alcohol can give you a hangover, but it can also make you wake up in pain of a different kind.
This sounds odd, but think about training your mouth to relax while you’re awake. If you’re experiencing stress and feel your mouth clenching up, stop yourself.
You can do that by first taking a deep breath. Then place the tip of your tongue between your teeth. That position keeps you from grinding.
At night, wet a washcloth with warm water. Then place it against your cheek.
By now, you should have a better idea of how to stop grinding your teeth. But if you still have questions, we can help.
Our practice is open 7 days a week. We’ve got experience in teeth grinding and other common dental issues. Contact us today for an appointment.