Teeth Grinding: How To Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Your partner wakes you in the night because you’re grinding your teeth and sound like a cement mixer running at full tilt. Or, you wake up in the morning with an aching jaw, neck pain and sometimes even a swollen face. Perhaps your dentist spotted a habit you didn’t even now you had during a routine examination.
How can you stop yourself from grinding your teeth, especially if you’re among the majority of tooth grinders, and gnash or grind your teeth when asleep?
Before You Try to Stop, Protect Your Teeth
Grinding your teeth wears down the tooth enamel making your teeth prone to decay. You can even crack or break teeth through grinding, so before you try any steps to stop grinding your teeth, get a mouthguard to protect them at night.
Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and make your mouthguard specifically to fit your teeth. Don’t try ready-made mouthguards as they could force your teeth out of alignment and will likely be uncomfortable to wear. Now, you’re ready to see if you can find a way to kick the habit.
Avoid Alcohol or Caffeine Before Bed
Drinking alcohol or caffeine rich drinks before bedtime could be one of the reasons you grind your teeth. If you do like a nightcap or are inclined to drink coffee until late in the day, cutting out these tipples could be the answer you’re looking for.
Try Changing Your Sleep Position
Sleeping on your back instead of your side or stomach could end your tooth grinding habit. In this position, the lower jaw tends to relax and droop away from the upper one during sleep. However, if you’re a back sleeper, you could find that switching sleep positions tells your body that something new is going on, breaking the habit.
There’s a lot of debate about what causes bruxism or teeth grinding, but most people tag stress as being among the reasons why some people seem set on destroying their teeth while they sleep. We’ve also found that some patients report periods when they’re grinding their teeth interspersed by periods when they don’t. If you’re under severe stress, you might want to see a therapist. Otherwise, try home remedies like exercise, meditation, or yoga.
Talk to Your Doctor
Bruxism has been linked to obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition in which night time breathing is suspended. This can place severe strain on your body. If you wake up at night gasping for breath or suffer from constant fatigue, you may be a victim of this sleep disorder.
Certain medications are also linked to bruxism. It could be worth talking to your doctor about any prescription drugs you regularly use to see whether they might be contributing to the problem.
Your Dentist is Your First Defence Against Bruxism Damage
Whether or not you’re able to stop the habit of clenching or grinding teeth at night, your dentist is your first line of defence against the damage it causes. Today’s bruxism mouthguards are much more comfortable then the ones we used a few decades ago, and unless your sleeping partner has pointed it out, your dentist may well be the first to spot the tell-tale signs that show you’re a tooth grinder. It’s just one more reason why your regular dental check-ups should form part of your healthy lifestyle routine.