7 Proven Tips to Stop Teeth Grinding and Clenching
If you have sore facial muscles throughout the day, or if you often have headaches in the morning, you may likely suffer from a condition called bruxism. Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, involves the repeated and unconscious clenching or gnashing of your teeth’s biting surfaces. Adults and kids frequently suffer from bruxism without realizing it. The level and degree of bruxism may alter throughout a person's life. In some cases, people experience excruciating facial pain while others may initially experience a little discomfort.
Bruxism may occur throughout the day while you are awake (daytime bruxism) while unconscious bruxism is the habit of grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw while you sleep (sleep bruxism).
While teeth grinding and jaw clenching are two different behaviors, they are often related and even have certain root causes. It is important to note, however, that not everyone who grinds their teeth also clenches their jaw and vice versa.
What is teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding is the repeated clenching or grinding of the teeth. If you grind your teeth while you sleep, it is involuntary and you often aren’t conscious that you are doing it. Some people may experience severe adverse effects such as pain or dental issues, while others may only experience very minor symptoms (or none at all). MSD Manual reports that you can apply up to 250lbs of pressure on your teeth. Such force is extremely high!
What is jaw clenching?
Jaw clenching happens when you are awake and anxious. There are a few clear indicators as to how you move your jaw. A tight jaw can lead to pain or discomfort in the head, teeth, ears, nose, face, and neck–with intensity levels ranging from a faint aching to a “loud throbbing”. Other indicators that you might be clenching your jaw include jaw locking, clicking or “jaw popping” noises, and restricted movement when you are opening your mouth. It can happen while you are working on your computer, participating in meetings, or engaging in other mindful activities like driving.
How to break the habit
These are some of the best tips to help you eliminate the habit of grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw:
- Reduce stress
Bruxism and stress are two related problems. When you start to feel stressed, taking a few minutes to relax allows you to release emotionally, and you can process it afterward to identify your stressors. Destressing activities such as meditation and physical exercise could help reduce your stress and reduce the symptoms of bruxism. Doing activities such as spending time relaxing, writing a journal, or reading a good book before bedtime are useful strategies to achieve a good sleep routine.
- Avoid excessive chewing
Your jaw is the most stressed joint in your body. By trying not to overuse your joints and muscles, pressure is reduced and your muscles are given time to rest. Avoid excessive chewing and foods that require a lot of chewing. Foods that require a great deal of chewing can trigger teeth grinding and encourage jaw clenching. Some examples of the foods you should avoid are chewing gum, steak, nuts and popcorn.
- Change your diet
Steer clear of foods that aggravate jaw clenching and require a lot of chewing. In your bruxism diet, you might also want to avoid teeth-damaging foods. Try eating softer meals to ease jaw tension and muscular discomfort. This reduces the pressure on the jaw, which can help it heal. Examples of soft foods are yogurt, smoothies, avocado, porridge and tofu.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks
Most people will say that your day wouldn’t be complete without caffeine! While it’s true that caffeine can certainly give you an energy boost, excessive caffeine might be detrimental to your health. Studies show that consuming too much caffeine might increase your cortisol levels, which can cause long-term stress. As a general guideline, consider skipping your habit of drinking coffee eight hours before going to bed at night. This will help you reduce your intake and lower your risk of teeth grinding.
- Give yourself a massage
Giving your jaw a gentle massage can help decrease muscle tension and increase blood flow. Try opening your mouth while using gentle circular motions to rub the muscles on the side of your face adjacent to your ears. Do this multiple times per day. Massages should target not only your jaw but also your neck and shoulders. Your massage therapist or physical therapist might discover muscle knots that contribute to your ongoing tension.
- Change your sleeping position
The right sleeping position can help you get a good night’s sleep. Changing your sleeping position may help you experience less pain in the jaw and teeth as you’re no longer unconsciously engaged in habits that exacerbate your bruxism. Your sleeping position affects how your head, shoulders, and neck muscles are strained or stretched and how your head and neck are supported. Changing sleeping positions also affects the amount of force applied to your head, jaw, and neck. It is recommended that sleeping on your back is best for reducing pain as it keeps the head and neck in better alignment, avoids pressure on the jaw, lessens teeth grinding, and provides added support to the head, shoulders, and neck.
- Wear a mouthguard
While trying these tips, you need to at least protect your teeth by wearing a mouth guard. Mouthguards are an excellent solution for people who grind their teeth and clench their jaws. Aside from reducing the pain, a mouthguard can also prevent damage to your teeth’s enamel. The upper and lower jaws are kept slightly separated by these mouth guards, which fit over the teeth. In some cases, the guard can help ease jaw tension and other damages that grinding can cause. Mouth guards worn during the day are less noticeable than those worn at night, making them appear discreet while still allowing you to talk comfortably.
No one should have to suffer from bruxism-related agony and pain. The good news is that online shops like ClearClub have made it possible for you to get your custom mouthguard for an affordable price. ClearClub offers a range of options for you – check out our product page to find the one that works best for you! What's more, ClearClub can provide a new, fresh mouthguard every 3, 4 or 6 months straight to your door!