Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a problem for up to 70% of people, according to Colgate. Constant, sustained grinding can have a huge impact on your overall oral health, and can lead to a need for dental work such as crowns. For some people, the extent of their grinding even leads to tooth loss. WebMD sets out a range of potential causes but says that the most likely causes are either stress and anxiety or an uneven bite.
Many people do not even know that they grind their teeth, as it often takes place during sleep. This makes it a much more difficult phenomenon to combat, as it's harder to break a habit when you don't know it's happening. However, there are a few things you can do to stop or reduce teeth grinding.
Break the Habit
This one won't be useful for everyone, as some people only grind at night. If you catch yourself grinding your teeth in the day, stop it in its tracks by consciously relaxing your jaw or placing the tip of your tongue between your teeth. When you've done it enough times it will become second nature, eliminating daytime grinding.
Treat Underlying Dental Issues
Not only can teeth grinding cause dental problems, it can also be caused by them. Get a checkup with your dentist, and ask them to look for issues like cracked or crooked teeth, or a misaligned bite, that might be contributing your grinding problem. Dental work to make your teeth align better may go a long way to reducing grinding.
Get Fitted For a Mouth Guard
Another thing that your dentist can help you with is getting a mouth guard. The Bruxism Association explains how mouth guards not only protect your teeth from nighttime grinding but also reduce jaw problems and noise. You can buy a mouth guard without a professional fitting, but you can also speak to your dentist about different types of guard and about the possibility of having one custom-made for your mouth.
Treat Underlying Stress and Anxiety
Examine the rest of your life for sources of stress and anxiety that may be contributing to your teeth grinding. For more serious anxiety or stress, you may want to consider counselling or seeing a GP, or perhaps you'd like to try methods of relaxing like yoga or meditation. Try to relax properly before bed, and avoid raising your stress levels with work right before bed.
With these simple steps and with the help of a dental professional, you should be able to reduce grinding or even stop entirely, thereby improving your oral health. You'll also benefit from better sleep, a lack of morning headaches, and reduced jaw pain, so there's no reason not to get started treating bruxism today.