If you’ve ever clenched your teeth during a tense moment, you’re not alone. Practically everyone grinds their teeth from time to time because of stress. But while a little grinding is normal, it can become a problem when it’s habitual (what dentists refer to as chronic bruxism). Some people grind their teeth throughout the day as a nervous habit, but most cases of chronic bruxism affect people when they’re sleeping. Like snoring or dreaming, teeth grinding is difficult to control once you’ve dozed off.
But, waking up most mornings with sore teeth, earaches, headaches, tight jaw muscles, or other facial pain is a telltale sign of a night spent with clenched teeth. And, beyond any temporary symptoms, prolific teeth grinding can also lead to dental emergencies, such as fractured or loosened teeth, damaged implants, bridges or crowns, root canals, or other dental work.
Even though what your teeth do at night isn’t under your immediate control, you can still take steps to reduce nighttime grinding by taking precautions and reducing stress in your life. To help patients achieve a peaceful night’s rest, our dentists from Thornton Park Dental Arts have several recommendations for reducing teeth grinding. Contact us today to schedule a dental appointment.
Stress affects sleep quality by preventing patients from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where they’re less likely to grind teeth. While prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids can help promote better sleep, these medicines can also be habit-forming. Instead, try a natural remedy to lower stress levels before bedtime. Exercise, for example, releases endorphins that energize and improve your mood. Exercising several days a week can help patients stay grounded and stress-free. Schedule workouts hours before bedtime, so that natural adrenaline spikes that result from exercising don’t keep you awake. A hot evening shower also relieves tension from the muscles and helps relax the mind. In addition, drinking a warm cup of herbal or chamomile tea is not only relaxing to sip on, but tea leaves also have numerous properties that can help calm your mind and body.
While working to permanently eliminate the root cause of teeth grinding — stress — from your life, wear a sports or sleeping mouthguard at night as a temporary solution. A rubber mouthguard, similar to ones worn by football or hockey players, won’t stop teeth grinding, but it will prevent dental damage. Patients may still awaken to a tired or sore jaw, but the surface of your teeth (and any dental work you have) will remain intact. For patients serious about a mouthguard, our dentist office can special order one that’s designed to fit their teeth and be more comfortable to wear. However, we recommend that patients first explore all of their options before paying for a custom mouthguard. Use one off the shelf from a sporting goods store or convenience store for about a week, and if it’s too uncomfortable to wear and sleep comfortably, then come see us to explore other night guard options.
Dentists recommend scheduling a check-up and teeth cleaning every six months. But if the teeth grinding has gotten out of control, it’s in your best interest to visit a dentist to make sure that no damage has occurred to your teeth. In cases where the teeth are damaged, our dentists need to act quickly to avoid further harm to your oral health. They can also discuss with you custom mouthguards and other short- and long-term options to reduce teeth grinding.
The longer you wait to resolve bruxism, the worse off your oral health could become. So, don’t ignore the warning signs of teeth grinding — schedule general dentistry or cosmetic dental services with Thornton Park Dental Arts today!