- Create a “no-grind policy” for yourself at home to recognize and combat teeth grinding.
- Wear a custom-fit mouth guard while sleeping to prevent nighttime bruxism.
- Reduce stress with healthy habits like getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, engaging in physical activity, and practicing relaxation techniques.
- Avoid chewing gum and hard candies during the day to prevent jaw clenching.
- Consider teeth replacement options like dental implants or crowns if damage has already occurred due to grinding.
It can be hard to imagine, but did you know many people suffer from teeth grinding and jaw clenching? The medical term for this condition is bruxism, which involves the involuntary clenching of your jaw muscles, grinding your teeth, or both. It can lead to several unpleasant consequences, including tooth damage, displaced teeth, headaches, and strain on jaw joints. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching, so you don’t have to live with discomfort or fear of future dental problems. Read on to learn five practical strategies for preventing bruxism.
1. Creating a No-Grind Policy at Home
The first strategy for preventing teeth grinding is creating a “no-grind policy” for yourself at home. This involves recognizing when you are grinding your teeth and consciously fighting the urge to keep from doing it. It can be helpful to remind yourself that grinding your teeth is bad for your oral health and could lead to other long-term issues. Additionally, if you find yourself clenching your jaw during stress or tension, take a few deep breaths and practice relaxation techniques like meditation or mindfulness to help control your urge to grind.
2. Wearing a Custom-Fit Mouth Guard While Sleeping
Another great way to prevent teeth grinding is wearing a custom-fit mouth guard while sleeping. Nighttime bruxism (teeth grinding while asleep) can often go unnoticed, so it’s important to protect your teeth even when unaware of what’s happening. A custom-fit mouth guard is designed specifically for your mouth and fits snugly over the upper or lower teeth, providing a physical barrier between them and preventing grinding during sleep.
3. Reducing Stress With Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Stress is one of the most common triggers for bruxism, so reducing stress with healthy lifestyle habits is essential to prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
Here are some healthy lifestyle habits you should incorporate:
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough restful sleep is essential to managing stress and reducing the risk of bruxism. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night, and try not to stay up too late. Make sure your room is dark, quiet, and comfortable with a cool temperature before bed. If you have trouble sleeping, consider talking to your healthcare provider about treatments that can help ensure that you get adequate rest each night.
Eat Healthy Meals Regularly
Eating regular balanced meals rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce stress levels by providing your body with the nutrition it needs to maintain balance throughout the day. Avoid processed and sugary foods, as these can worsen the effects of stress and disrupt your natural sleep cycle.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress levels naturally. Whether taking a brisk walk, swimming, or participating in an exercise class, regular physical activity can help release endorphins that will make you feel relaxed and happy. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day—even if it’s just walking around the neighborhood.
Take Time Out To Relax
Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or meditation can help lower stress levels significantly within minutes. Make sure to take at least 10 minutes out of your day to relax and unwind. Listen to soothing music or a guided relaxation session, practice yoga, or try mindful coloring to help de-stress. You can also focus on calming your mind by repeating positive affirmations such as “I am relaxed” or “I am calm and centered.”
4. Avoiding Chewing Gum and Hard Candies During the Day
Chewing on hard candies or gum throughout the day can lead to clenching of the jaw muscles, which could potentially cause teeth grinding. Therefore, avoiding these habits as much as possible is essential to prevent bruxism. If you feel the urge to chew something, reach for crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples or celery instead — they provide a satisfying crunch without damaging your teeth.
5. Consider Teeth Replacement Options
If all other strategies for preventing teeth grinding and jaw clenching fail, consider discussing professional teeth replacement options with your dentist. Dental implants can be a great way to replace missing or severely damaged teeth due to bruxism, as they provide a long-term solution that looks and functions just like natural teeth. You may also be a candidate for dental crowns, which can help restore the appearance and function of teeth that have been significantly damaged due to grinding.
By following these five strategies, you can take steps to protect your teeth from grinding and clenching. Along with making lifestyle changes like reducing stress, limiting stimulant consumption, and avoiding hard candies or gum throughout the day, it is also essential to wear a custom-fit mouth guard while sleeping and create a “no-grind policy” at home. If damage has already occurred due to bruxism, talk to your dentist about teeth replacement options. Taking these precautions can help ensure that you have healthy teeth for years.