Health

How to Stop Clenching Teeth at Night

If you regularly wake up with a sore jaw, you may be clenching your teeth at night. Although this is no life-threatening habit, it’s crucial that you work on avoiding clenching your teeth at night. In this guide, we’ll go through some recommended steps to get rid of your teeth clenching obsession.

How You Know if You Have a Problem

The actual term for grinding your teeth is called bruxism, but if you grind your teeth at night, it’s called sleep bruxism. However, most dentists can identify it when it becomes critical enough that it damages the enamel of your teeth. Here are a few symptoms to diagnose yourself and see if you have sleep bruxism:
– Headaches in the morning
– Chipped/cracked teeth
– Loose teeth
– Sore jaw
– Indents on your tongue

If you notice any of the symptoms above, you should contact your dentist immediately. In worst case scenarios, if sleep bruxism isn’t treated quickly enough, you could end up with broken teeth.

Use a Warm Compress

To unclench your jaw, you should use a warm compress, using a towel soaked in warm water. After you wring out the compress, press it against the painful part of your jaw for at least 10 minutes. You should do this repeatedly every time you feel pain or tension in your jaw. However, you should also use a warm compress against your jaw when you feel tension building up.

Massage Your Jaw

If you feel your jaw clenching, you should use your fingers to massage your jaw muscles. You should start by applying small amounts of pressure to the tense parts of your jaw, working your way around the rest of your jaw and mouth. Massaging your jaw can help unclench your jaw and prevent you from grinding your teeth at night.

Implement Proper Jaw Placement

If clenching your jaw is becoming a regular problem, there’s a chance that you’ve trained yourself to place your jaw the wrong way by accident. Fortunately, you can practice proper jaw placement throughout the day to try to re-wire your brain.

Once your lips are closed, you should have a small gap between your lower and upper teeth. You should also put the end of your tongue between your front teeth. Hold this position for at least five minutes, during this time; your jaw muscles should relax. However, if this doesn’t work, you should see your dentist to help reposition your jaw.

Consume the Right Supplements

To help relax your jaw muscles, you should work to consume the right dietary supplements, such as calcium, vitamin C, and magnesium. These can help maintain muscle activity in your jaw, as well as regulate it. You should consume nutrients either through a diet or take supplements.

However, if you want to take dietary supplements, you should be sure to one take one-part magnesium for every two parts of calcium you take. Regularly consume your dietary supplements for at least two months before deicing to continue it or try something else.

Identify Your Stress Triggers

Since stress can play a factor in clenching your jaw at night and during the day, it’s important to find what causes you to become stressed. You can do this by keeping a stress journal and write down everything that causes you stress; these are your stress triggers. However, be sure to write down everything that causes you stress and anxiety, even if it seems very mild stress.

The next step is to avoid triggering any of these stressors. Although you won’t be able to eliminate any of them, you can work to relax your mind when you feel yourself stressed out. This can be anything from listening to calm music, taking a bath, or meditating.

Maintain a Regular Sleep Cycle

If you notice that you clench your jaw at night, you should work to improve your sleep quality by maintaining a regular sleep cycle. This also means getting in eight hours of sleep every night to try reducing your stress, which will also help you keep your jaw unclenched throughout the day as well. You should aim to go to bed and wake up every day at the same time, no matter what kind of schedule you have. However, the regular eight hours of sleep should be consistent every single day.

Besides maintaining a regular sleep schedule, you should also work on relaxing your mind and body before going to bed. You should also try reducing your alcohol and caffeine consumption since that can change your body’s sleep cycle. Plus, you should turn off bright lights, cool your room, and make it overall more comfortable for sleeping conditions.

Exercise Regularly

Regularly exercising can help relieve stress on your body while improving both your immune system and mood. In turn, this can help keep your jaw unclenched and made your jaw muscles more elastic. Now, you don’t need to do hardcore workouts, but you should work In at least 30 minutes of exercising a day, at least five times a week. Keep up this regular exercising for at least two months, but you should plan to make it a permanent fix.

Consult Both Your Dentist and Doctor

Since jaw clenching contributes both mentally and physically, it’s often wise to consult both your dentist and doctor. A dentist can help treat your oral problems, but a physician can work out a more in-depth treatment plan to deal with your stress, among other factors.

Use Dental Splints

Although dental splints can be pretty pricey, they’re often better than using over-the-counter mouth guards to separate your lower and upper teeth and protect them from damage from jaw clenching. Plus, mouth guards are made out of hard plastic, meaning you’ll still feel pain from clenching your jaw. Dental splints, on the other hand, are made to fit your mouth and are constructed from a soft acrylic. Although this won’t stop you from jaw clenching, it will reduce your pain and prevent tension in your jaw from getting worse.

Generally speaking, these types of mouth protection are to be used at night, but often people use them in the daytime if they experience jaw clenching throughout the day.

Fix Damaged and Misaligned Teeth

Your jaw problems may be caused by damaged or unaligned teeth. If this is, in fact, the cause of your jaw clenching, you should talk to your dentist to figure out the best course of action. For misaligned teeth, you may need to get braces. If the misalignment is not severe, you may be able to remedy the issue with a few strategically places crowns. For damaged teeth, rebuilding them can realign your teeth and prevent you from clenching your jaw any more.

Go to Therapy

Though there are a few different types of therapy that can help with jaw clenching, cognitive behavior and biofeedback therapy are the most effective. Cognitive behavior therapy is used to treat the psychological aspect of jaw clenching. During this therapy, you will speak with a professional psychologist who can help you to manage your stress and change the way you react to it. This can help to decrease your anxiety and your jaw clenching.

Biofeedback therapy is a kind of physical therapy. During this therapy, a doctor will inspect the way that you control and hold your jaw by using specialized equipment. They can use the equipment to retrain and regulate the jaw muscles to prevent future clenching.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be used to treat all sorts of pain and stress. For this reason, it is an incredibly popular alternative remedy for relieving jaw pain and muscle tension. Before you receive treatment, be sure to tell the acupuncturist about your jaw clenching and pain so they can tailor your treatment accordingly.

Consider Using Muscle Relaxants

You can also use muscle relaxants to stop yourself from clenching your jaw and helping your muscles to relax. Talk to your doctor about both oral relaxants and injected relaxants. To obtain oral relaxants, you need a prescription from a doctor. You should only use these relaxants for a short period to avoid becoming dependant on them. Oral relaxants limit your body’s immune response, and they can make you drowsy.

Injected muscle relaxants like Botox are injected straight into the affected area, which, in this case, is your jaw. They only relax the muscles around your jaw. Though this type of treatment can last for a long period, it is only prescribed as a last resort remedy.

Check Side Effects

Clenching your jaw may also be a side effect of a medication. Talk to your doctor about this possibility, especially if you did not clench your jaw before you began taking the prescription medicine. If it is a side effect, you may be able to switch to a different medication that does not have this effect. Clenching your jaw can also be a side effect of smoking, drinking alcohol, and using recreational drugs. Eliminate these substances from your life to fix your bad habit.

Though constantly clenching your jaw can be painful and annoying, there are things you can do to eliminate this condition. From relieving stress to visiting your doctor, preventing yourself from clenching your jaw is simple.

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Ethel Huizar
Ethel Huizar is a Health Promoter with a Master degree in Public Health from the University of Colorado. Ethel loves exploring health-related topics, writing and doing research. Oral health is one of her many concerns, considering it is related to an everyday routine – eating. Her writing aims to inform people on the number of ways nature and science can help them lead healthier lives. That is why she recently started a project named Health Row, a site with great health tips, descriptions of medical devices and information about medical conditions.