Did you know most people who grind their teeth due to stress aren’t even aware they’re doing it? They may not even know that they are stressed. Teeth grinding teeth usually occurs at night, when you’re sleeping. The only obvious clue you have that it occurred is a sore jaw the next morning.
If you grind your teeth at night, over time, you will see your teeth wear down or break. But it can happen so gradually that you don’t notice until it’s too late to prevent permanent damage.
How can you stop yourself from grinding your teeth when you’re not even aware that you are doing it? It’s not easy and will require dedication and continuous focus. However, there are proven therapies and techniques to help overcome your compulsions. Read on to find out how:
1. Heat Therapy
Physicians apply heat to relieve pain in many areas of the body. The heat causes blood vessels around the affected area to dilate, which allows more blood and nutrients to flow into the area to heal damaged tissue. The same technique can work to reduce the urge to grind your teeth.
Simply wet a washcloth with hot water and place it over your jaw. The heat penetrates into the mandible and eases the feeling of stress within that tissue, which reduces or eliminates the urge to grind your teeth.
2. Miracle Massage
Stress creates tension, and it’s the tension that we attempt to self-heal by grinding our teeth. In the same way that professional athletes get massages to help torn and achy muscle heal faster, doctors will recommend that teeth grinders perform self-massages on the muscles of their jaw, face, and gums to relief tension at those trigger points.
Honestly, while this is a popular treatment, I don’t agree with its use. Taking muscle relaxers will certainly relieve the discomfort that causes teeth grinding, but it’s a bit too much, because the muscle relaxers work all over the body.
It is also unsafe to drive or operate machinery while under the influence of drugs and drugs can have side effects or create a chemical dependency. That’s why we only recommend using natural stress relief supplements before resorting to prescription medication.
4. Jaw Exercises
Physical activity of all types has been proven to reduce stress and would, therefore, be a great way to eliminate teeth grinding from as well. Even better–exercises for the jaw, although that may be easier said than done.
Opening and shutting your mouth continuously for several minutes–the only jaw exercise of which I’ve heard–just doesn’t have the cachet of life at the fitness center. Still, even if you keep grinding your teeth, exercise has so many positive results that is should not be questioned.
Yes, most teeth grinding occurs during sleep, but as a stress-relief aid, there’s not many more effective techniques than sleep.
Most teeth grinding occurs only during the deepest periods of sleep, the REM periods, which are only experienced for a short time overall. Increasing your total hours of sleep does not materially increase the total number of REM hours. Try to go to bed an hour or two earlier than you normally do to see whether your sore jaw returns.
6. Eliminate Chewing Gum
Chewing gum is not a valid exercise for your jaw. The soft consistency of the gum creates a false sense of when your bite is fully clenched, leading many people to clench even harder. So hard that their jaws hurt after chewing, and their teeth grind at night from the pain.
7. Drink Water
Hydration is always a good thing. Water causes tissue to swell, which cushions the bones and teeth of the mouth. Jaw pain is reduced along with the urge to grind your teeth.
Water also increases the flow of nutrients to the teeth and gums to promote healthy tissue and prevent jaw pain, which leads to teeth grinding.
8. Mouth Guard
Wearing a dental appliance designed to stop teeth grinding while sleeping – if you are able to sleep while wearing such a dental appliance – can absolutely reduce or eliminate teeth grinding. Check out some of the top mouth guards available on Amazon below:
The Best Solution of All
Learn how to manage your stress.
Reprioritize your life away from the endless pursuit of material possessions and seek satisfaction in simple pleasures. Refinance or pay off debt to reduce your monthly overhead to below your monthly income. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. Let your grown children make their own decisions and resolve their own problems. Become more tolerant of others and embrace diversity.
Don’t worry about what others think of you. Keeping up with the Jones will only keep you grinding your teeth. Embrace a work/life balance and change your job/career if it does not enable you to have that lifestyle. Basically, focus on living a life you enjoy.
In a sense, stress can be addicting. It feeds upon itself to grow into a bigger and bigger problem. Fortunately, once you turn the tide against stress, your happiness grows in the same way. Unfortunately, your ground-down teeth cannot turn the tide and re-grow lost enamel. The sooner you fight the battle against stress, using whichever technique or tools that works for you, the more teeth you will have left.
Of course, there is another solution to stress induced teeth grinding–the services of a restorative dentist. However, that can get pretty costly if you’ve been suffering from teeth grinding for a long time. It’s best to work on improving your stress levels and doing everything you can to prevent the problem from worsening.
If you need help controlling your stress, check out our list of 170 stress management techniques.