Everyone wants to wake up feeling well-rested and refreshed. Unfortunately, we don’t always get that. For some people, their grinding teeth rob them of a good night’s sleep. Known medically as bruxism, grinding of the teeth during sleep affects 15-40% of kids and 8-10% of adults. Besides ruining the quality of your sleep, this disorder negatively impacts your dental health. It can also cause pain in your neck, jaw, and mouth. That’s more than enough motivation to use these 4 tips to stop bruxism.
1. Habit Adjustments
Most of us are creatures of habit. We have a tight, daily routine that somewhat defines us. This ranges from what we do to where we go. Admittedly, some habits are more harmful than others, but managing them is what helps us negate or nullify those harmful effects.
We’ll first focus on lifestyle habits. Those who drink and smoke are twice as likely to suffer from bruxism compared to the average person. This means that you would need to cut down on drinking alcohol, caffeinated drinks (energy drinks, tea, coffee, etc.), and smoking cigarettes. Since bruxism is associated with substances that cause poor sleep, managing these will help stop it.
Additionally, you will also need to adopt a new eating habit. You should avoid hard and chewy foods. Hard foods require more effort to eat, thus causing your jaws to clench harder. Chewy foods cause you to chew a lot, and that repetitively reinforces the clenching action. Both groups could include items like candy, steak, taffy, and even popcorn. These might be some of your favorite foods, but hold fast; avoiding them will do wonders for your dental health.
2. Protective Dental Devices
Protective dental devices are a godsend for most people. Since snoring is linked to teeth grinding, it can be a problem for who you sleep with. So, in addition to treating bruxism, these devices treat snoring as well.
Mouthguards are the most popular protective dental devices around. When it comes to protecting your dental health, mouthguards work well for teeth grinding and can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. Also known as occlusal splints, these mouthguards come in two plates and can be either custom-made or one-size-fits-all. Once you have them in, they work by lightening jaw tension and protecting the teeth from damage.
Alternatively, mandibular advancement devices (MADs) are also used to treat grinding teeth. They work by moving the mandible forward during sleep. Though they aren’t as popular as mouthguards, they’re usually used when other sleeping disorders are present.
3. Massage And Exercise
Stress can be one of the factors that make you grind your teeth in your sleep. As you go through your day, the tension in your muscles persists throughout the night. This results in clenching and grinding as you sleep. It’s not always easy to de-stress, but there are ways to reduce and manage stress. These include relaxation techniques, massage, and regular exercise.
Relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing are known to reduce stress and stop bruxism. Most of these can be practiced throughout the day but are critical before bed. You can also massage your jaw and neck to help relax the muscles in that area. This will decrease clenching and tension. When it comes to exercises, there are two types you can focus on, full-body exercises and mouth exercises. Both achieve the same result: releasing tension from the muscles with the added benefit that regular exercise contributes to better sleep.
4. Corrective Procedures
Sometimes protective dental devices aren’t enough. What should you do then? In certain cases, bruxism is caused by misaligned or missing teeth. When your top and lower teeth don’t fit together easily or perfectly, this can cause compulsive clenching and grinding. This wears down your teeth and furthers the misalignment — a perpetual cycle.
If your dentist determines that this is the reason you grind your teeth in your sleep, then they will recommend corrective procedures; depending on the severity, your dentist may recommend braces or surgery. Braces will gradually realign your teeth while easing tension. When the misalignment doesn’t originate in the teeth, jaw surgery would be the next solution.
Medically classified as bruxism, grinding your teeth while sleeping can be a painful and annoying disorder. Fixing this condition involves habit adjustments, protective dental devices, stress relief techniques, and corrective procedures. Depending on the reason for your condition, either one of these should stop it from happening. Use whichever one suits your situation so that you can get a good night’s sleep.