How To Prevent Teeth Grinding and Clenching
Here at ClearClub, we believe in a multi-tiered approach to treating conditions like bruxism. Using a dental guard is of course the most important step to preventing grinding and clenching, but having other methods to supplement it for reducing stress are also useful.
We've discussed activities and habits, such as incorporating stress-relieving foods into your diet and meditation, that can help mitigate the daily stresses which will exacerbate your grinding. Today though, we have a short list of recommendations that can also help. Two involve talking, and two involve focusing on your body's relaxation... let's start with the latter two!
Jaw Exercises: During the day as all that stress is accumulating, frequently you're focused on activities and not really giving your jaw much of a workout; it needs activity just like any other system of muscles and joints in the body. Jaw exercises can definitely help release tension in this instance. Here's a great one to start: Open your mouth as wide as you can where it is still comfortable for you, and touch the front of your teeth with the tip of your tongue. This allows your jaw muscles to relax; if you can do this regularly throughout the day, while working from home or especially before bedtime, it really helps!
Deep Breathing Exercises: As with other activities that are focused on being present in your body such as meditation and yoga, deep breathing exercises are an outstanding way to bring yourself to a level of calm on a daily basis. A method called 4-7-8 breathing is popular and even recommended by many dentists who treat patients with bruxism. Here's how it works: Breathe in through your nose for 4 slow counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, and slowly breathe out for 8 counts. On the last step, really try to focus on slowing your breath down and relaxing your jaw while you do so.
Speech Exercises: These are very closely related to the jaw exercises that we outlined above, but in this case you're actually pronouncing sounds align your jaw in ways which avoid friction. These are great to do at home while you're alone, also just before bed; for example, say the letter "N" out loud. You'll notice, you pronounce the sound by touching your tongue to the roof of your mouth and it prevents your teeth from touching at all. Try that on and off for a couple of minutes.
Talk Therapy: Sometimes, there really is no better way to relieve stress than talking it out. Find time to talk to a trusted friend or family member about things that bring you stress daily, or even just plan to have a light-hearted chat where you can divert your focus away from these stresses. Likewise, therapy and counseling doesn't require you to be seeking help for a specific issue like anxiety or depression; sometimes talking to someone who can provide an objective point of view to your daily stress is relief in and of itself. May counselling services are also offering free or drastically reduced rates now for video call appointments due to COVID-19, so connecting with a therapist is easier than you might think.
Using some of these methods in tandem with your dental guard is part of a multi-tiered approach to better oral health. Always remember to brush and floss after every meal, and wear your guard when you're experiencing stress – but we hope these tips will help! Meanwhile, ClearClub's custom-fit, low-cost night guards will help protect your teeth from grinding and clenching, and start as low as $95 for your first guard. Plus, they are shipped directly to your door! Your teeth will thank you.