fitting family dental visits into a crazy schedule

Can You Stop Teeth Grinding?

by Andre Daniels

Teeth grinding is a common dental problem that can have serious consequences. In some instances, the grinding is not noticed until the dentist points it out. If you have noticed that you grind your teeth or your dentist has expressed concern that you are doing so, here is what you need to know.

Why Are You Grinding Your Teeth?

Teeth grinding or clenching your teeth is sometimes the result of stress and anxiety. The act is often a subconscious response to stressful situations and usually goes away once the stress is alleviated.

It can also result from structural problems with the teeth. Most grinding occurs while you are asleep. If you have an abnormal bite, missing teeth, or chipped teeth, you are more likely to grind your teeth during sleep.

Teeth grinding sometimes results from the use of certain medications. For instance, some antidepressants can trigger grinding.

Since grinding sometimes goes unnoticed, there are some signs you can look for to determine if you are. You could experience dull headaches throughout the day. When you wake up, your jaw might be sore. Your teeth could even be fractured or loose.

What Can You Do to Stop?

Since grinding usually during sleep, you need to protect your teeth during that period. One way is to wear a mouth guard. The guard will absorb most of the force that comes from grinding. It is important that you have the mouth guard fit by your dentist.

If you notice that the grinding typically occurs throughout the day, stress is likely the culprit. Lowering your stress levels is the best guard you have against the habit. Finding ways to relax is key. For instance, you could start to meditate or enroll in yoga.   

Caffeine can sometimes increase the tension that is in your body without you realizing it. Eliminating it from your diet can make a difference. If you are hesitant to completely remove it from your diet, try to avoid it in the hours leading to your bedtime.

In addition to this, you need to talk to your dentist about jaw exercises. Exercises, such as massaging your jaw, can help to alleviate some of the tension that is present. Your dentist can show you some basics or he or she might refer you to a physical therapy for more intense therapy.

Since teeth grinding can go undetected sometimes, it is important that you are keeping up with your checkups with a cosmetic dentist.