Do you ever wake up from a night’s sleep with sore teeth and maybe even a headache? You could be grinding your teeth. Clenching and grinding, also know as bruxism can be triggered by anything from super-high stress levels to crooked teeth or an abnormal bite. Not to mention, it could cause mouth pain and serious teeth damage.
The habit is controlled by the muscles in your cheek which also happens to be super strong with an ability to exert up to a whopping 600 pounds of force per square inch in the back of your mouth, near the molars. So as you can imagine, this strong muscle can have a serious impact on your teeth.
While you should rely on a dentist to come up with a personalised treatment plan based on what is causing you specifically to grind or clench your teeth, it’s worth learning about a few of the most common treatments they might suggest.
One of the most common ways to protect your teeth from wearing down and even fracturing due to grinding and clenching (and reduce subsequent pain!) is to wear an “occlusal appliance,” which is basically just a fancy name for bite guards or bite plates. These are normally custom-made so that they fit perfectly over your top or bottom teeth. The downside is that you will have to wear it every night.
A technology called “mandibular advancement devices” are also commonly used to stop teeth grinding. However, these are most commonly used when a sleep disorder (like sleep apnea) is the most likely cause. They’re also made specifically for each jaw and are usually worn over both the top and the bottom teeth. The goal is to bring your bottom jaw forward. Mandibular advancement devices typically bring your bottom jaw (mandible) forward.
If you’re feeling stressed of anxious right now, this could be causing the grinding. In these situations, behavioural management is the treatment of choice. Try relaxation techniques like meditation to try and manage the stress. Apps like Headspace and Aura are great places to start if you’ve never meditated before.
Some research suggests it may even be worth trying hypnosis. One study reported by the Bruxism Association saw hypnosis had positive long-term effects in people who had been grinding their teeth, so it may be worth looking into.