If you notice that you grind your teeth or clench your jaw often during the day or experience sore jaw, sensitive teeth, or a headache, you might suffer from bruxism. Teeth grinding occurs during the day due to anxiety, tension, or stress, or at night due to hyperactivity, acid reflux, or sleep apnea. It could also be a side effect of depression medication or use of tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, and hard drugs. Teeth grinding initially might not be deemed harmful, but over a long period can cause a number of damage, such as:
- Muscle pain in the jaw and joint can inhibit chewing, swallowing, and speaking
- Pain in the face and ears
- Flattening and wearing of the teeth
- Inflamed or damaged gum
- Fractured, cracked or loose teeth
- Damage to the fillings crowns
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
Remedies for Teeth Grinding and Jaw Clenching
Teeth grinding can be eased or controlled based on the patient’s symptoms and stressors. A mouth guard is often prescribed, but that doesn’t stop the grinding. Here are some ways to help ease teeth grinding:
- Stress reduction and anxiety management: Teeth grinding can sometimes result from stress and anxiety. Stress management and relaxation routines can ease the grinding of the teeth, as well as the overall health. Here are some relaxation techniques that can help ease stress:
- Talk therapy
- Medication: A muscle relaxer can help relax the jaw muscles and stop teeth from grinding. Some antidepressants can risk teeth grinding; such drugs should be avoided, and if already in use, speak to your doctor about an alternative.
- Mouth Guards: These are splints designed to help cushion the teeth and stop grinding. They provide a physical barrier between the teeth and the pressure across the jaw. Mouth guards are made of flexible rubber or plastic and can be over-the-counter or custom-made by your dentist. A custom-made mouthguard is designed to fit directly onto your top or bottom teeth.
- Botox: In a case of severe pain, a botox (botulinum toxin) injection can be administered to help paralyze the jaw muscles used during grinding. A medical professional will inject a small dose of botox into the jaw muscle (masseter), easing the teeth grinding and related headaches.
Prevention of teeth grinding
Teeth grinding, if detected early, can be reduced or prevented by some self-care practices, such as:
- Avoid or reduce the intake of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and hard drugs
- Do not chew gum, as it can encourage grinding and increase wear and tear
- Exercising the tongue and jaw muscles to help relax them
Finding out what makes you grind your teeth is the first step to treating it and helps know what line of treatment to follow. You should consult a cosmetic doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of teeth grinding.