Bruxism: Quick Fixes
Teeth grinding, bruxism, is a dental condition may be caused by any number of factors. There are several things that can be done which can temporarily alleviate the problem, however, it is important to determine the true cause to manage the problem over the long term.
Teeth grinding is commonly caused by stress, anxiety, suppressed anger or frustration. It is more common in individuals who are aggressive, competitive or hyperactive in personality. It may be caused by malalignment of the teeth, a complication arising from medical disorders such as Huntington’s chorea or Parkinson’s disease, or a side effect of certain medications such as antidepressants. In children, teeth grinding may be a temporary occurrence resulting from earaches, teething, or the growth and development of the teeth and jaws.
Teeth grinding may or may not be symptomatic. In some individuals, it can lead to painful dysfunction of the jaw joint. Depending on the individual case and the symptoms experienced, it is important to seek longer term management by visiting your dentist or doctor for appropriate treatment. In the interim, the following “quick fixes” may suffice:
1. Hot or cold packs can be applied to relieve sore jaw muscles.
2. Avoiding hard foods like nuts and candies.
3. Getting sufficient rest. Insufficient sleep can be a compounding factor for stress and tension leading to teeth grinding.
4. Reduce stress through meditation and relaxation. For instance, listen to music, take a warm bath, or exercise. Yoga can be very beneficial for stress management. You can also learn relaxation techniques to apply throughout the day. Certain stretching exercises may also be beneficial for restoring a normal balance to the action of the muscles in the face.
5. Get a massage for the muscles of the neck, shoulders and face, or do it yourself.
6. Certain herbal remedies such as hops and chamomile can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety. It is important to check with your health care professional before consuming such herbal remedies, for instance, hops is not recommended for children, and pregnant and lactating women.
6. Protect the teeth with a mouth guard. Teeth grinding can be very damaging to the biting surfaces of the teeth. The ideal management would be to get a custom-made splint from the dentist, however, a simple mouth guard purchased from the pharmacy will also do the trick. Although mouth guards don’t necessarily stop the grinding, it can help by changing the resting length of the jaw muscles which have been found to be sufficient for treating jaw joint dysfunctions in some individuals.
Many of these “quick fixes” are useful for day time teeth grinding, however, correcting night time teeth grinding is more challenging. Many people aren’t even aware that they are grinding their teeth at night until they are told by a sleeping partner or when their dentist notices the wear spots on their teeth. For some individuals, merely performing these “quick fixes” is sufficient to manage the problem. In others, further diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional is necessary.