Treating teeth grinding

by: Roy Smith, D.D.S.

Most people grind their teeth from time to time, and while it’s not a great idea, it probably won’t have any lasting effects. However, there are some people who grind on a continual basis, called bruxism, and that can be detrimental to your teeth. It can lead to permanent damage to teeth and other oral health issues.

If you or your kids have continued teeth grinding issues, the first thing I usually recommend is getting fitted with a mouth guard. We can fit you at the dentist office, and you can wear the guard while you sleep to prevent your teeth from grinding.

Since wearing a mouth guard at night isn’t the “coolest” or most “glamorous” thing to do, once you get your mouth guard fitted and are wearing it, you should look into the root of the issue. If you can figure that out, you may be able to solve the problem that is causing you to grind your teeth in the first place.

A lot of people grind their teeth due to stress. De-stressing can significantly reduce this issue. Attend stress counseling, start an exercise program or see a physical therapist. If all else fails, it may be worth asking your doctor for a prescription for muscle relaxants.

Here are a few other tips that can help prevent teeth grinding:

•    Avoid or cut back on caffeine.
•    Avoid alcohol as grinding often increases after a cocktail or glass of wine.
•    Don’t chew anything that is not food – that means no pen or pencil gnawing, and best to reduce gum chewing as well as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
•    If you clench or grind during the day, stick your tongue out a little bit past the front teeth. This will help your jaw muscles learn to relax.
•    Take a couple of minutes at night before going to be to hold a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe. This will help relax jaw muscles as well.

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