Clenching and grinding (bruxism) are largely under-diagnosed. Patients are often in denial that they clench and grind because they are simply unaware- many people do it in their sleep! Muscle tenderness in the morning and teeth touching when you are not speaking or eating are indicators of bruxism.
Bruxism is often related to stress and anxiety. Sometimes symptoms for bruxism don’t occur, but when they do, people often experience facial pain, headaches and worn down teeth. In severe cases, patients may experience joint pain in the jaw and muscle area of the mouth. When this occurs, patients may be diagnosed with Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ). TMJ occurs when something goes wrong with your jaw joints and jaw muscles. Oftentimes, this happens because of a jaw injury, inflammation such as arthritis, or overuse. TMJ disorders may cause mild to debilitating symptoms, such as pain while chewing. In many cases, physical therapy is a viable option to soothe TMJ pain and relate the inflamed muscles.
How can I stop Grinding my Teeth?
If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, you may want to consult with your doctor on the best remedies to reduce stress and ease tension in your jaw. In other cases, your dentist may recommend using a mouth guard to protect your teeth if you grind in your sleep. Below are some other tips that may help you stop grinding your teeth include:
- Avoid or cut down on caffeine- this includes coffee, tea and chocolate.
- Avoid or cut down on alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
- Avoid chewing on anything that isn’t food (i.e. pens, pencils, fingernails, etc.).
- If you notice yourself clenching your jaw randomly throughout the day, be aware of it and train yourself to relax your jaw and your muscles in those moments.
Make sure to consult your dentist if you think you may be grinding your teeth so they can recommend the right kind of treatment for you. If you need a second opinion or would like to find a dentist to better fit your needs, take the NoBull Dental quiz to get paired with your ideal dentist.