How Teeth Grinding Can Literally Hurt You In The Long Run

Teeth grinding is more than just a bad habit. It’s something serious that can harm your teeth and your mouth in the long term. Do you grind your teeth every morning or every night? Do you wake up from a headache and painful jaws because of it? If so, then you may suffer from bruxism, which is common in those who grind their teeth.

There are two types of bruxism: sleep bruxism, which occurs at night, and clenching, which is a milder version that happens during the day. You may notice that you clench your teeth when you’re eating hot or cool foods or when you’re stressed out.

Grinding your teeth is also the cause of the lingering pain found in the hinge of the jaw known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ). You may notice the clenching of the jaw during the day but experience nocturnal bruxism, which also causes the rubbing of the teeth. You may wake up with a painful jaw, a headache, and quite possibly an earache as well. The best wear to prevent further damage to your teeth is to wear a custom-made mouth guard.

Other possible ways of finding relief include doing a myofascial release (MFR), in which you will need a yoga block and a tennis ball, or specifically an MFR ball. Lie on your side and rest your jaw on the block. Slide the ball between the block and your TMR. Slowly open and close your mouth to release the muscles are tightened by the clenching and grinding. Shake your head no and continue for three minutes.

Another option is to reduce stress before you hit the sheets. Turn off your computer, phone, tablet, TV, and other gadgets an hour prior to your bedtime. Get rid of anything that stresses you out so you can have a more restful night’s sleep.

According to Fort Myers writer and yogi Nancy B. Loughlin, tension in the jaw is connected to the throat charka, and clenching or grinding the teeth means you’re blocking energy. Ways to release the tension include meditation, massaging Tiger Balm or Deep Blue into your temples and jawline, or shrugging your shoulders and allowing them to release.

The Migraine Girl wrote that wearing a NTI device – a custom-fitted mouth guard – for the past six months has helped her gain relief from TMJ.

“Well, it’s been nearly six months since I’ve worn the device almost nightly—I’m proud to say that I’ve skipped only seven nights or so over that time frame, which is a pretty good track record for me. The days I woke up after not having worn it, I can definitely feel a difference in the setting of my jaw and the pain I feel when I open my mouth for the first few times in the morning.”

But there are some downsides. For example, the NTI device still causes clenches since it prevents the upper and lower rows of teeth from clenching. She still experiences migraines, but she has factored them out to other stresses in her life and doesn’t think that this device will help or hurt her alternative migraine treatment.

Fortunately, there are other ways to treat teeth grinding. But you should consult a physician to find out the underlying cause of your jaw pain. Then you can get some relief moving forward. Your dentist will also need to repair any damage that’s been caused by the clenching or grinding. It’s possible that they will recommend an X-Ray to assess the damage of your jawbone and teeth.

If you have a milder form of bruxism, you may just be educated on the natural “relaxed” jaw position. But in severe cases, you will have to wear a mouth guard for teeth grinding, such as an occlusal splint, which will keep the upper and lower teeth separated and avoid clenching or grinding. You may also need braces, muscle relaxants, or regular injections with botulinum toxin (Botox) that paralyses the clenched muscle and reduces symptoms over time.

If you want natural ways of reducing clenching and grinding, then reduce the stress and stimulants in your life. For example, aim to drink less coffee or alcohol. Other methods include getting plenty of sleep and scheduling regular dental check-ups.

[Image via Mik81 via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and Resized | CC BY-SA 2.0]