It is not uncommon for people to grind their teeth due to stress or other causes. While occasional teeth grinding (called bruxism in a medical context) may not necessarily be harmful to the teeth, a repeated pattern of bruxism can have negative effects on a person’s overall oral health.
It is important to recognize the symptoms and take steps to stop grinding your teeth.
Why do people grind their teeth?
Bruxism can develop at any age and is a difficult habit to kick, in large part because it often happens when a person is sleeping. However, some people grind their teeth while awake, often when concentrating on a task like lifting something heavy or driving a car. Pinpointing the cause of teeth grinding can be the first step in stopping the problem. The main causes of bruxism are stress, crooked teeth, sleep apnea, the use of substances like alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, or a combination of these triggers.
How do you know if you grind your teeth?
Often, a person who grinds their teeth doesn’t realize they have a problem until the dentist points out the damage it has done to their teeth. After years of excessive teeth grinding, this damage to the teeth can become severe; results can include fractured or loose teeth, or even losing teeth. Excessive bruxism can reduce healthy teeth to stumps. In these cases, a dentist may have to install crowns, bridges, or dentures to replace the ruined teeth.
Early symptoms of teeth grinding are constant headaches, an achy or tender jaw, and wear on the teeth. Oftentimes a loved one may hear you grinding your teeth at night and point it out to you. If you think you may be grinding your teeth, visit your dentist for advice.
How do you stop grinding your teeth?
The simplest and most immediately effective way to stop grinding your teeth is to have your dentist fit you with an occlusal appliance or mouth guard which are similar to the many snoring mouth guards reviewed on this site. A mouth guard is an implement you wear at night over your top row of teeth that greatly reduces the pressure of a clamped jaw.
Doctors and dentists may suggest mandibular advancement devices in cases where the cause of bruxism is a sleep disorder. These devices such as SnoreRx and ZQuiet among others generally bring the bottom jaw forward for greater ease of breathing and to decrease snoring.
Some specialists recommend yoga or other exercise programs to reduce stress and therefore remove one of the causes of bruxism. Yoga and meditation can fit into any schedule; a soothing evening flow right before bed may be particularly effective in targeting the problem, as it relaxes you. However, you can even find time to meditate at a desk job. Taking just fifteen minutes to focus on your breathing in a quiet environment may do the trick.
Because yoga combined with meditation is a long-term solution rather than a quick fix, targeting the main problem with a mouth guard is recommended to minimize the negative effects of bruxism immediately. However, a yoga practice can bring positive benefits to all aspects of your life, including your oral health.
Grinding your teeth during the day or at night is by no means uncommon or untreatable. Talk to your dentist if you feel you may be experiencing problems with bruxism. It’s never too late to improve your dental health and develop a better quality of life!
Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!