Teeth grinding, clenching and gnashing – known as the techy term “bruxism” – is a common oral health condition thought to affect as many as 1 in 3 people.
Most teeth grinders do this unknowingly at night (and sometimes subconsciously during the day), and often wake up with jaw pain, sore teeth, headaches, or bites on the inside of their gums.
Chronic bruxism sufferers often wear their teeth down to nubs and experience serious problems like tooth fractures, TMJ and extreme tooth sensitivity.
How can teeth grinding cause so much damage? It’s like putting 1,200 pounds of recurring pressure on the teeth and jaw area. Ouch!
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Causes of bruxism include sleep disorders, parasitic infection, misaligned jaw or teeth, or it can be a side effect of taking certain medications, such as antidepressants.
Up to 70% of the time, bruxism is caused by stress and anxiety.
While it would be great to just eliminate all the stressors in our lives, it’s simply not a reality. We can’t all retire to the South of France and employ a personal masseuse to be at our beck and call.
So what can we do?
Best Treatment for Bruxism
Dental professionals know that the best way to relieve teeth grinding symptoms is to wear a custom mouth guard at night. Generic sports mouth guards should be avoided, as they can come out of place and not fit properly.
However, many patients don’t want to spend the money on a custom mouth guard (insurance often doesn’t cover them), or they just find it too foreign to wear at night.
If this describes you too, keep reading for 5 tips to help relieve teeth grinding.
1. Use Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is an herb known for its soothing, calming effect on the nervous system. Using this herb can help improve sleep, reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. You can use lavender in different ways:
- Apply a few drops of lavender essential oil to your pillow at bedtime.
- Add lavender essential oil into an oil diffuser and run it throughout the night.
- Mix a few drops of lavender essential oil into coconut oil or olive oil, and rub on the jaw and neck area before bed.
2. Exercise Your Jaw
Daily jaw exercises can help relax and strengthen the jaw. Before you begin, apply a heating pad or warm towel to the neck, jaw and face to warm up the jaw and facial muscles. Choose one exercise and add to your daily routine. After a few days, add the second exercise, and so on. Check out 8 jaw exercises specifically for bruxism treatment.
Also – practice awareness. Daytime teeth clenchers often do this while driving, reading or writing. Consciously relax your jaw throughout the day.
3. Eat Good Mood Food
Our love affair with fast food and microwave meals can rob our bodies of stress-fighting nutrients, like the ones found in dark leafy greens, fermented foods and seafood.
If the idea of more time in the kitchen to make healthy meals is stressful in and of itself, try this veggie meal replacement protein shake: VIBE. Each shake has a full serving of leafy greens and a patented probiotic. Why does a daily probiotic matter? Your brain (which influences mood and mental health) is directly affected by your digestive system.
4. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
When you sleep better, you spend more time in the deeper sleep stages. Bruxism occurs mainly in the lighter sleep stages.
Avoid coffee, tea, alcohol and cigarettes several hours before bed for better sleep, and practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
Have trouble shutting your mind off at night and letting go of tension? Try this relaxation exercise in bed each night.
5. Use a Low-Abrasion Toothpaste
Many bruxism sufferers have tooth sensitivity because during their teeth grinding and clenching sessions, they’re wearing away their dentin. A low abrasion toothpaste can help provide protection. Oxyfresh Original Toothpaste is one of the market’s lowest-abrasion toothpastes with a Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) rating of only 45.
Have some stress-relieving bruxism tips you recommend?
Share them here and help others find teeth-grinding relief.