Do you ever find yourself grinding your teeth? Or clenching your jaw when you are angry or frustrated? Studies show 30 to 40 million children and adults grind or clench their teeth, a condition known as bruxism. “Bruxing” can occur at night (nocturnal bruxism) or during the daytime hours, and it can affect infants, adults, and everyone in-between.
Here are some common reasons that people grind their teeth:
- Emotional pain (being let go from a job, losing a loved one)
- Stress (starting a new job, having a baby, moving)
- Sleep problems (such as sleep apnea)
- Focusing habit
- Personality type (often aggression or competitiveness)
- Abnormal tooth alignment
- Side effects from prescription medications
As you can see, the list is long! This means that if you are a grinder, you’re not alone. However, while it’s not immediately damaging, continued grinding and clenching can cause tooth damage, sensitivity, jaw dysfunction and headaches.
To stop bruxism, your dentist can help realign your teeth, which will reduce and stop the grinding over time. Your dentist could also recommend a “night bite plate” to prevent damage from nocturnal bruxism. If your bruxism is brought on by sever amounts of stress or another psychological or sleep disorder, it may be time to go see your physician. He or she can prescribe medication to reduce stress, help you sleep, and relax your muscles.
But if you brux and don’t really know why, we’ve gathered some practical ways for you to treat your habit of clenching and grinding at home without having to see a professional.
- Reduce stress – If your bruxism is caused by stress, do some stress-reducing activities to calm you. Partaking in 30 minutes of exercise a day is a great way to reduce stress. Other ideas include drawing yourself a bath, massaging your temples, listening to calming music, and adhering to a healthy, steady diet.
- Get sleep – Sleeping 7-8 hours a night will not only help your bruxism, but also the rest of your daily life! An important part of getting a good night’s rest is relaxing in the evening; try to avoid competitive situations in the evenings (your game of Sorry can wait until morning!) and don’t drink caffeinated beverages after dinner.
- Tell someone – If you share a room or have a bed partner, ask him or her to be on alert for the signs and sounds of clenching and grinding teeth.