Steps to Reduce Wear and Tear on Teeth From Clenching and Grinding
Clenching your jaw throughout the day and grinding your teeth at night (called bruxism) can lead to negative repercussions for your health. For example, headaches, broken teeth, worn-down enamel, and even cavities can occur if you clench and grind over a long period of time.
However, many people aren't sure what to do about it; after all, you can't consciously stop yourself from grinding your teeth at night when you're asleep. But you can actually take several steps to reduce the effects of bruxism and jaw-clenching even if they've now become an ingrained habit.
Here are some steps you can take to protect your teeth, gums, and overall health from the wear and tear and other effects of clenching and grinding.
1. Ask Your Dentist to Fit You for a Night Guard
If you currently use an over-the-counter night guard, you may find that falling asleep with the guard in your mouth is difficult. Or, because you're not used to such a bulky object in your mouth, you may even remove it while you're asleep.
In this case, trying a professionally fitted and fabricated night guard may be worth your while. Professional quality night guards are designed to fit well so they don't cause changes to your bite, and they can be slender rather than bulky so they're less likely to feel uncomfortable.
2. Find Your Sources of Stress
Stress can be a cause or can contribute to both bruxism and daytime jaw clenching. Some individuals may simply be stressed due to anxiety, relationship problems, physical health conditions, or other issues that are difficult to change. But if you have a stressful situation in your life that you can eliminate, doing so may help you relax and grind your teeth less.
3. Have a Sleep Study
The root cause of grinding or clenching isn't always obvious, but sometimes a sleep study can help get to the bottom of it. That's because sleep disturbances, such as obstructive sleep apnea, can be the cause of nighttime tooth grinding. Ask your doctor about getting a sleep study to rule out or detect these types of sleep disturbances.
4. Add Relaxation to Your Lifestyle
One way to deal with stressful situations you can't change is to periodically take some time to relax and de-stress. For some people, a relaxation practice such as mindfulness meditation may be of help. Just before bed can be an especially important time to de-stress if you grind your teeth in your sleep.
5. Consider Therapy if Applicable
If you have a lot of unresolved stress in your life and you suspect some of it may be due to excess anxiety, consider the possibility that you might have a mental health issue such as an anxiety disorder.
Talking to a mental health professional could help you to get a diagnosis and start applicable treatments for any stressful anxiety conditions.
6. Help Your Enamel Stay Healthy
Logically speaking, healthy enamel is stronger and less likely to crack and chip under pressure than weak, eroded enamel. So keeping your teeth and especially your protective enamel strong and healthy is another way to help reduce any wear and tear from clenching and grinding.
In addition to professional dental checkups and great dental hygiene, talk to your dentist about products that could give your enamel an extra boost, such as prescription fluoride toothpaste.
These steps can help you to reduce the severity of your clenching and grinding as well as protect your teeth from the full force of grinding against each other. For more information about professionally fitted night guards or any of our other dental services, get in touch with Milner Dentistry now.