Most people sometimes grit and grind their teeth. Those with bruxism (the name derives from the ancient Greek word for “gnashing your teeth”) may constantly grit their teeth during the day or grind them during a night's sleep. Severe bruxism can lead to headaches and damage to the teeth and jaws. There is no definitive method to cure bruxism in all cases. However, you can get rid of bruxism by combining stress reduction and stress therapy and using a mouth guard or splint.
Method 1 of 6: Reducing Stress at Home
Step 1. Do breathing exercises before bed
It's an easy way to take your mind off current problems, relax, and reduce stress. You can play quiet music while exercising.
- Sit in a comfortable position where nothing will distract you.
- Inhale for 3 seconds while connecting the diaphragm.
- Exhale for 2-3 seconds.
- Inhale again, stretching it out for 3 seconds, and then exhale again for 2-3 seconds. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
- After 10 inhalations and exhalations, close your eyes. Concentrate on your breathing. Try to breathe in a certain rhythm. Sit like this for 5-10 minutes until you feel calm and relaxed.
Step 2. You can do some meditation before bed
Oftentimes, bruxism is caused by stress, so to get rid of it, you need to relax before bed, which is aided by meditation.
- Lie on your bed or floor. Stretch your arms along your body and close your eyes. Take a few slow breaths in and out.
- Without opening your eyes, try to focus on your body. Start with your hands. Concentrate on your shoulders. Then move your attention to your elbows. Gradually go down to relaxed palms, feel their heaviness.
- Move your attention to your legs. Think about their weight and length. Go down to your toes. Feel your heels on the floor.
- Move slowly to your shins and then to your thighs. After that, turn your attention to the pelvis and abdomen. Continue to breathe calmly and measuredly.
- Lift up from your belly to your face. Consecutively focus on your chin, mouth, cheeks, ears, and forehead.
- After completing the journey through your body, you will be able to fall asleep deeply.
Step 3. Do not consume drinks containing alcohol or caffeine before bed
Don't drink coffee or caffeinated tea in the afternoon. After dinner, these drinks can be replaced with herbal tea or lemon water. You should not stimulate your body before bed, as this can impair sleep and lead to teeth grinding.
In the evening, it is best not to smoke and avoid alcoholic beverages. These agents stimulate the body, impairing sleep and causing teeth grinding
Step 4. Talk to your partner before bed
If you are sharing a bed with someone, ask them to pay attention to whether you are clenching and grinding your teeth while you sleep. If so, see a physician or dentist complaining of bruxism.
Talking to your partner before bed can also help you relax and reduce stress. After talking with a loved one, you will be able to fall asleep more easily and your sleep will be stronger
Method 2 of 6: Professional Stress Therapy
Step 1. Try cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
The main causes of bruxism are stress and anxiety. CBT is a psychotherapy technique that can reduce stress through changes in thinking and behavior.
A qualified therapist will talk to you about what you think about yourself, the world around you, and the people around you. He will also discuss with you the relationship between your thoughts, feelings and actions
Step 2. Try hypnosis
Some people with bruxism benefit from hypnosis. One study investigating the long-term effects of hypnosis found positive effects for 36 months (and possibly more) after treatment.
There are recordings of hypnosis sessions that can be found on the Internet
Step 3. Ask your doctor about biofeedback
With this method, which consists of observing your body with the help of special procedures and equipment, you will learn to better control your jaw muscles. For monitoring, mechanical sensors are used, which are inserted into the dental splint. With their help, you will learn to recognize excessive clenching of the teeth and control the jaw muscles, getting rid of bruxism.
Your doctor will tell you in detail how biofeedback can be used to treat bruxism
Method 3 of 6: Exercises to Relax the Lower Jaw
Step 1. Massage your jaw muscles
Pay primary attention to the chewing muscle, which controls the movement of the lower jaw when chewing. This muscle is located on the sides of the mandible, just behind the cheeks.
- To massage your jaw muscles, place your fingers on the indentations just below your cheekbones. In this case, your fingers should be located below the ears and about two and a half centimeters in front of them.
- Press firmly on the indentations with your fingers and rub them. Feel free to apply pressure to this area of your face and massage it confidently.
Step 2. To relax the jaw, watch the position of the tongue
The tongue should rest freely on the floor of the mouth, and its tip should touch the front teeth. This will prevent jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
Step 3. Do the drunken man exercise at least once a day
It consists in imitating the slurred speech characteristic of sleepy or drunk people.
Start by saying, "I am so relaxed that I find it difficult to speak." Then repeat it, but this time speaking the words indistinctly. Chew words to make them sound sluggish and indistinct
Step 4. Perform the "long surprise" exercise at least once a day
It consists in opening your mouth wide, as if your jaw dropped from surprise, and stay in this position for a longer time.
- Keep your mouth open so that two fingers pass between your teeth.
- Try to keep your mouth open for about an hour.
- If you notice that you involuntarily closed your mouth and brought your teeth together, slowly open your mouth again.
Method 4 of 6: Using a mouth guard or splint
Step 1. Talk to your dentist about taking a measurement and making a suitable mouthguard
The mouthguard will evenly distribute the pressure throughout the jaw and prevent direct contact between the upper and lower teeth. This will protect your teeth from further deterioration caused by strong gripping and grinding.
- As a rule, mouth guards are made of flexible rubber or plastic. Your dentist will be able to customize a mouthguard for you. However, this will be quite expensive.
- You can also choose a ready-made mouthguard that suits you at the pharmacy, which will be cheaper. Keep in mind, however, that it is not likely to suit you as well as a custom-made mouthguard.
- Your partner will also thank you, as the mouthguard will relieve him of the unpleasant noises you make at night.
Step 2. Ask your dentist about a dental splint
This device, also called an occlusal or bite splint, is made of a harder plastic than a mouthguard. Your dentist will be able to make a splint that fits your upper or lower teeth perfectly.
- While dental splints are not more effective than mouth guards, they are more durable. A tire can last for at least several years.
- The splint will help muffle the grinding sound and protect your teeth from premature wear. Note, however, that dental splints are more expensive than mouthguards.
Step 3. Keep in mind that a mouth guard or splint will not heal your bruxism
They will only reduce the activity of the jaw muscles during sleep, allowing you to control the disease, but not get rid of it.
As a rule, in the treatment of bruxism, a whole range of measures is used, consisting of stress therapy, medication and the use of a dental mouth guard or splint
Method 5 of 6: Taking Medication
Step 1. Ask your doctor to prescribe muscle relaxants
Your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant to help you relax your jaw muscles before bed.
This remedy will not cure bruxism in the long term. A muscle relaxant will only improve sleep, but not relieve your teeth grinding
Step 2. Talk to your doctor about anti-anxiety medication
Anti-anxiety drugs such as buspirone and clonazepam can temporarily relieve bruxism. However, their effect often wears off after a few months of use.
Some people develop bruxism as a result of the side effects of anti-anxiety drugs. In this case, talk to your doctor about switching to another drug. Never stop taking medication without first talking to your doctor
Step 3. Ask your doctor about NSAIDs
These drugs can reduce the pain and inflammation in the jaw caused by grinding teeth. However, they do not prevent bruxism or help get rid of it.
Method 6 of 6: Preventing Bruxism
Step 1. Visit your dentist once a month
In this case, the doctor will be able to identify damage to the teeth (including from bruxism) at an early stage and prevent their development.
- Teeth grinding can cause teeth to crack. If a cracked tooth is left untreated, it can lead to the death of the dental nerve and the development of an abscess. In this case, root canal treatment will be required - a serious and expensive procedure, which can be avoided by timely detection of a crack in the tooth.
- Problems such as a cracked or missing tooth are usually treated with restorative dentistry. In some cases, these methods allow you to restore the bite and prevent teeth grinding.
Step 2. Do not chew on pens or pencils or use chewing gum
Chewing on inedible items can cause tension in the lower jaw, resulting in teeth grinding.
Chewing gum creates a habit of clenching your teeth tightly, which can cause or worsen bruxism
Step 3. Do not consume foods or drinks containing caffeine
These are sugary sodas, chocolate, coffee, and energy drinks. Eating them will not only make your sleep worse, but it will also increase your stress levels. This, in turn, can cause grinding teeth and worsen bruxism.