How to Stop Clenching Teeth

Bruxism Guide

How to Stop Clenching Teeth

Teeth clenching is also known as teeth grinding or bruxism, and it can be a severe problem.  It is unlikely to cause you much trouble over a short period (aside from a headache or slight jaw pain).  Left unaddressed though, it can morph into a lifetime habit that will have lasting effects on your health.  Besides regular headaches and jaw pain, it can lead to fractured and badly worn-down teeth.

Fortunately, there are methods for dealing with teeth clenching.  Which one turns out most effective depends on the cause of yours, of course.  Different people clench their teeth for different reasons, and these are just some of the most common solutions for the most common causes.

Relaxation of the Facial Muscles

Tense facial muscles tend to clamp the jaw, leading to tooth clenching.  Ensuring that your facial muscles are properly relaxed (especially before you go to sleep if you tend to grind your teeth most often in bed) can be an effective means of minimizing teeth clenching.

Try performing light facial exercises that stretch and loosen up the jaw when it feels tense in that area.  Try simulating a scream’s open-mouthed expression, for instance, while also pushing your tongue out so that it sticks out of your mouth.  A gentle massage of the fingers on the muscles around your jaw can accomplish the same thing.

Another option would be to do thermal treatment of the muscles before going to bed.  Simply get a warm compress and hold it to your cheek (around the area where men’s sideburns are, slightly above the jawline).  Do this for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes on either side of your face.

Relaxation of Your Mind

There are many who now claim stress to be the leading cause of teeth clenching.  Therefore, attempting to diminish the stress you feel may be the key to dealing with this problem.

There are many possible avenues here, to be sure.  You can see a counselor or therapist for help in dealing with the things that cause you anxiety.  You may even talk to your GP to get ideas on where to start.  They may also recommend good therapists or psychologists you can talk to.

There are also coping mechanisms you can indulge in yourself.  Try to find something healthy and engaging to help you deal with the stresses of life.  Learning how to balance stressors with fun experiences and downtime can be crucial in this fast-paced age.  Meet with your friends and find things that you can enjoy.

Keep in mind that part of dealing with stress is being healthy.  Healthy people tend to feel more positive and less stressed-out than unhealthy ones, so ensuring you get the right nutrition is critical here.  Take note that failing in the physical health department can lead directly to teeth clenching: dehydration has been noted to promote teeth grinding, for example.  Make sure you stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and stick to a good (but enjoyable) diet in order to keep stress levels down and your mood regulated.

Medicinal Solutions

There is unfortunately no drug yet that can stop teeth clenching.  On the other hand, there are some that do the opposite: they cause it.  Keeping any eye out for these substances can help you find a way to live your life without teeth grinding.

The first thing is to check your prescriptions for SSRIs.  These reuptake inhibitors are common among anti-depression medicaments.  Unfortunately, they have been associated with increased chances of teeth clenching, especially during sleep.  While it would be unwise to simply stop taking your SSRIs if you have been prescribed them, you can ask your doctor if a different medication might be possible for you.

Most stimulants will also promote teeth clenching.  This class of substances includes caffeine, so if you are very fond of dark teas and coffee, it might be advisable to go easy on them from now on.  The same is true for alcohol in spite of its categorization as a depressant.  It appears to be a popular culprit for aggravated teeth clenching.

Yogic Mouth Position Practice

The yogic mouth position can actually be a very good model for people to use when teaching themselves not to clench their teeth.  Essentially, you keep your teeth apart slightly while having your actual mouth or lips shut.

The tongue can help by pushing forward, its tip often touching the slight ridge of flesh where your upper front teeth meet your palate, but you can push it even further by having its tip sit squarely between your incisors.  Having your tongue there can also prevent you from biting down (as you would feel it the moment you start to go back to that habit).

Practicing this position even while awake takes some dedication of course, but it can be surprisingly effective.  This is because it actually teaches the mouth to remember the position as the “default” one with sustained practice.  Over time, you will find your mouth falling into this position naturally, even while falling asleep. This will stop you from grinding your teeth together.

In the same vein, it would be wise to train your mouth out of bad behaviors.  Stop chewing gum, for instance, or biting on your nails.  Avoid chewing on the ends of your pencils.  Preventing the mouth from taking in a muscle memory via activity and habit can do a lot for a chronic teeth clencher.

Coping with Teeth Clenching Until a Cure

It may take some time before you finally identify the cause of your teeth clenching and the cure for it.  Until then, you should find a way to live with it without destroying your teeth in the process.  A good answer for that is the mouth guard.

Mouth guards are molded and sanitized mouth pieces designed to protect your teeth so that any grinding you do will not wear down the enamel.  You can obtain standard mouth guards from most pharmaceutical stores, but if you want a truly comfortable one, you will have to get it made especially for you by a dentist.  These will keep your teeth relatively safe until you can find out how to stop your teeth clenching.

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