If you’re wondering how to stop grinding your teeth, it’s probably because your doctor recently informed you of all the dangers of teeth grinding. Bruxism is the term for the health condition where you unconsciously clench or grind your teeth. Perhaps you grind your teeth during the day, when you’re anxious. Many people also grind their teeth at night while they sleep. This is called ‘sleep bruxism’.
When teeth grinding or bruxism is occurring on a regular basis, it can cause you many problems. If regularly occurring, teeth grinding can cause tooth damage, headaches, facial pain, oral health issues and can even cause facial wrinkles.
Excessive and prolonged teeth grinding can cause the muscles within the facial structure to bulk up. In other words, teeth grinding could change your face shape, giving you a wider-looking face. Teeth grinding can also make you look older if it persists, since it can cause premature wrinkles in the face and mouth area.
Before we can get into how to stop grinding your teeth, we need to cover the causes of teeth grinding. For example, if anxiety or stress is causing you to clench or grind your teeth, this means that engaging in more stress-relieving activities could help you grind your teeth less.
Below, we’ll discuss some common causes of bruxism or teeth grinding.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Many people who grind their teeth are not aware of what’s causing them to do it. In fact, many teeth grinders don’t even know they do it until a doctor links some of their symptoms to the possibility of sleep bruxism.
It’s possible you have a genetic condition that leads to teeth grinding, and a DNA test could help you figure out if you have a genetic risk of one of these health conditions.
For example, there are genetic conditions such as sleep apnea and anxiety disorders that could cause a person to grind their teeth.
To learn how to stop grinding your teeth, you’d first need to know why you’re doing it. You might not know why you’re grinding your teeth. However, teeth grinding is frequently associated with other health issues such as stress, anxiety or sleep disorders.
Anxiety and Stress
Teeth grinding is most commonly induced by tension or worry. Many anxiety sufferers are unaware that they are grinding their teeth while they’re anxious, for example. It’s common knowledge that stress manifests itself in various physical symptoms, and teeth grinding or clenching can be one of them.
Medication Side Effects
Teeth grinding can occasionally be an adverse side effect of certain prescription medications. Teeth grinding, in particular, has been linked to a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs include paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline. Talk to your doctor if you think teeth grinding is occurring as a side effect from a medication, as it might be possible to switch medications.
You are more likely to grind your teeth while sleeping if you snore or have a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA causes breathing problems when you sleep.
You’re also more prone to grind your teeth if you do any of the following:
- You tend to talk in your sleep or mutter.
- You’ve been told you sometimes act out when sleeping, such as kicking out or punching.
- You suffer with sleep paralysis, which is the temporary inability to move or talk when waking up or falling asleep.
Other factors that could increase the chances of teeth grinding include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Smoking cigarettes
- Use of recreational drugs
- Drinking an excess amount of caffeine.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
The following are some of the signs and symptoms that you’re a teeth grinder:
- Headaches that occur frequently or upon waking up
- Pain and stiffness in the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and surrounding muscles, which can develop to temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
- Sleep disruption (for you or your partner)
- Damaged teeth or worn-down teeth, which can cause greater tooth sensitivity and possibly tooth loss
- Relief from facial pain and headaches upon ceasing the teeth grinding
- Facial pain
- Unfamiliar facial wrinkles
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth: Treatment Options
There are several treatment options available for teeth grinding or bruxism. A mouth guard or splint reduces the clenching or grinding of your teeth. These also aid in the reduction of discomfort and the prevention of tooth damage. Other therapies include muscle relaxation exercises and good sleeping hygiene or better sleep habits. If you suffer from stress or anxiety, stress-reducing treatment options should be considered for you to also figure out how to stop grinding your teeth. When it comes to stress and anxiety, there are many natural remedies as well as medications. Counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can also help with stress and anxiety. Your doctor or counsellor could help guide you towards the best stress-reducing options for you.
Below are some more treatment options for how to stop grinding your teeth:
- Try to avoid chewing gum. When you utilize your jaw muscles frequently even when you are not eating or speaking, they become accustomed to the constant activity, increasing the probability of involuntary clenching or grinding.
- If you suffer from sleep bruxism, get a professionally-constructed night guard for your mouth, and wear it while you sleep.
- Reduce your intake of coffee, as grinding tends to increase after consumption of caffeine.
- Avoid chewing on anything that isn’t food. For example, try not to bite your nails or open packages with your teeth.
- By getting into the habit of resting the tip of your tongue between your teeth, you can train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth during the day.
- Holding a warm washcloth or warm compress to your cheeks before bed can help your jaw muscles relax. This relaxation of the jaw muscles reduces the likelihood of teeth grinding.
Repairing the Damage Caused By Teeth Grinding or Bruxism
Teeth grinding is one of the most damaging habits for your teeth. As we’ve discussed, this sometimes unconscious clenching and grinding of your teeth, also known as bruxism, can severely wear away your tooth enamel over time. Teeth can deteriorate until they are entirely flat across, at which time they may fracture and break.
Stress, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and even smoking or drinking coffee can all increase the likelihood of developing this harmful habit. A dentist can assess the issue and prescribe a treatment plan to correct it. However, even if you get it treated, there’s a potential that significant damage has already been done.
Dentists can repair damaged or broken teeth using a variety of methods. Minor issues can be corrected with dental bonding or the placement of veneers, which are porcelain layers that restore the appearance of your teeth. However, when the enamel is severely compromised, the best solution is a dental crown.
Dental crowns are very durable covers that replicate the appearance of teeth. They’re often utilized when there is no need to extract the original tooth, but you need additional protection. The dental crown will completely match the colour of your natural teeth, making it difficult to tell you to have them. Done correctly, it should just look like your regular teeth.
These dental crowns are strong and well-constructed, but they are not unbreakable. If bruxism persists, the dental crown might not hold up. This is why it’s critical to address the underlying issue of your teeth grinding.