Does your jaw feel sore after waking up in the morning? Or does your partner notice chomping sounds coming from your mouth when you’re asleep? Clenching or grinding your teeth is actually quite a common habit, but it can damage your teeth if left ignored. Read on to learn more about grinding your teeth and how to combat it.
What Causes Grinding
Grinding your teeth and clenching, also referred to as bruxism, is commonly caused by stress and anxiety. Having a stressful day at work, or feeling anxiety frequently throughout your day, and then carrying that with you all the way to bedtime, can be extremely taxing on your body. Keeping your body and mind in a constant state of tension can allow different habits – conscious and unconscious – to form. In particular, we tend to carry a lot of tension in the jaw, which can eventually lead to grinding if that tension remains high before you go to sleep.
How Can I Know For Sure If I’m Grinding
There are some common signs to tell if you grind your teeth. Having a sore jaw or tender facial muscles in the morning is the most common sign. Other indicators include morning headaches, sensitive or noticeably loose teeth, indentations on your tongue, and even chipped or cracked teeth.
If you begin to notice any of these signs frequently in the morning, the best way to confidently determine if you’re grinding is to schedule an appointment with your dentist so they can inspect your teeth and inform you one way or another.
How To Combat Grinding
Since teeth grinding and clenching is commonly caused by anxiety and tension in the body, the best way to combat it is to be proactive in reducing your levels of stress, especially before bedtime. Although this may sound easier said than done, there are many simple and effective ways to achieve this. Here are a few suggestions:
Practise Deep Breathing: Deep breathing exercises have been proven to calm anxiety and stress effectively. When we’re stressed, our breathing quickens and becomes shallow. By slowing it down and taking deep breaths, you can help reduce your blood pressure and increase your lung capacity, leaving your body relaxed and calm. Before bed, take a few minutes to inhale through your nose for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 10 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 15 seconds. Practise this a few times each night.
Stretch Before Bedtime: Another effective method is stretching before bedtime. You can sit on your bed, put on some relaxing music and stretch out your body gently to relax and get it ready for a good night’s rest. You can also practice some light yoga (YouTube offers numerous bedtime stretches) to help calm your body and mind.
Use A Mouth Guard: If you still require help to prevent your teeth from grinding, then talk to your dentist about wearing a mouth guard. These are commonly used at night to protect the teeth and can be custom made to fit your mouth.
If you think that you might be grinding your teeth at night, try some of these proactive measures, or talk to your dentist about using a mouth guard to keep your teeth protected.