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Teeth grinding (bruxism) often occurs during sleep. This is called sleep or nocturnal bruxism. You may also grind your teeth or clench your jaw subconsciously while you’re awake. This is known as awake bruxism.
If you grind your teeth, there are things you can do to stop it. Some remedies may work better than others, depending on the underlying cause of your teeth grinding and symptoms.
Your dentist or doctor can help guide you to your best solution for ending bruxism.
Read on to learn about possible remedies for teeth grinding.
Mouthguards can be custom-made at the dentist’s office or purchased over the counter (OTC).
If you have chronic sleep bruxism, custom-made mouthguards may help protect your teeth from damage. They may also reduce the strain on your jaw. Custom-made mouthguards are more expensive than OTC options, but may be a better choice for some people.
Custom-made mouthguards come in varying degrees of thickness. They’re fitted specifically to your jaw’s size and shape. They’re typically more comfortable than store-bought mouthguards as they’re made of softer material.
OTC nighttime mouthguards are typically made of plastic. For some people, these aren’t as comfortable as custom-made ones. When purchasing an OTC mouthguard, look for one that’s made of soft plastic or one that can be boiled to soften it.
OTC mouthguards may not be as effective for severe bruxism as custom-made types, but their low cost may make them an attractive and viable solution for people with minor teeth grinding.
Reductive coronoplasty is a dental procedure that may be used to reshape or level the biting surface of your teeth. It may be effective if your teeth grinding is caused by crowded, misaligned, or crooked teeth.
In some instances, a second procedure called additive coronoplasty may be used to build up the teeth. Your dentist can perform either procedure.
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Discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor before beginning Botox injections to treat bruxism.
For this procedure, a medical professional will inject small amounts of Botox directly into the masseter. This is a large muscle that moves the jaw. Botox won’t cure bruxism, but it can help relax this muscle. Doing so may alleviate teeth grinding and related headaches.
The injections may need to be repeated. Benefits typically last for three to four months.
Biofeedback is a technique designed to help people become aware of and eliminate a behavior. It can be used to alleviate both sleep and awake bruxism.
During biofeedback, a biofeedback therapist will teach you how to control your jaw muscle movements through visual, vibratory, or auditory feedback generated from electromyography.
Research on the effectiveness of biofeedback for the treatment of bruxism is limited.
One review found evidence that there may be short-term benefits when done with contingent electrical stimulation. More research is needed to understand the long-term benefits and effectiveness with other biofeedback methods.
If you grind your teeth, stress-reduction techniques may help in some cases. Stress reduction can also benefit your overall health, so it’s a low-risk remedy.
Here are some stress-reduction techniques to try:
Try downloading a meditation app or joining a meditation group. Meditation takes practice. It may be best used in conjunction with other treatments, too. Find out which type of meditation is best for you.
Talking to a therapist, counselor, or trusted friend may help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. If your stress is affecting your daily life, a psychiatrist may also prescribe medications to help reduce stress and anxiety, if needed.
Exercise also reduces stress by producing feel-good endorphins.
If you’re new to exercise, start slow. Try building daily activity into your life at first. You may also need to explore a variety of activities to find one that helps you relax. Here’s how to start.
Tongue and jaw muscle exercises can help you relax the jaw and facial muscles and maintain proper alignment of your jaw. You can try these at home or work with a physical therapist.
Try the following exercises:
- Open your mouth wide while touching your tongue to your front teeth. This helps relax the jaw.
- Say the letter “N” out loud. This will keep your top and bottom teeth from touching and help you avoid clenching.
You can also try gently massaging your jaw to loosen up the muscles.
Teeth grinding can lead to a variety of side effects, including:
- pain in the jaw, face, and ears
- wearing down and flattening of teeth
- loose or painful teeth
- cracked, damaged, or fractured teeth
- breakage of fillings and crowns
You may not realize you grind your teeth until symptoms appear.
The risk of complications from teeth grinding may increase if you have untreated bruxism for an extended period of time. Long-term complications may include:
- chronic ear and headache pain
- facial muscle enlargement
- damage to teeth that requires dental procedures, such as dental bonding, filling, crowns, or bridges
- temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
If you know you grind your teeth, or if you suspect teeth grinding may be to blame for pain or other symptoms, see a dentist. They can examine your teeth for wear to determine if you grind them. They can also look at your bite and alignment.
Depending on the suspected causes, your dentist may recommend seeing your doctor for the treatment of an underlying condition.
Teeth grinding is a common condition with many possible causes. Treating it early is important to avoid significant dental complications. Your dentist and doctor are both good resources for diagnosing and treating bruxism.