Some people tend to clench and grind their teeth in sleep. A common way to treat this is to use a sleep apnea mouth guard. While teeth clenching and grinding is considered normal if done occasionally, it can be a cause for concern if it becomes a habit.
Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding can be caused by different factors, such as stress, medical conditions, and crooked or missing teeth.
It can also be due to a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea usually occurs when your breathing gets disrupted during sleep. Your body changes when you sleep – the deeper you sleep, the more relaxed your muscles will get. For people suffering from sleep apnea, their tissues soften, while their tongue becomes relaxed. This can block their airway, leading to an interruption in their breathing. The blockage of airway is associated with teeth grinding as it helps people reopen their blocked airways.
As people usually grind their teeth during sleep, it is difficult for them to realize that they do it, until the damage in their teeth becomes apparent. A dentist will recommend the following strategies to help you prevent clenching/grinding your teeth in sleep:
Use of a Mouth Guard at Night
Many dentists recommend the use of a customized mouth guard during sleep at night. It is an oral appliance made from either plastic or acrylic. A mouth guard will fit directly over your top teeth and protect your teeth when you are grinding them. A night guard can also help to reprogram your muscles and nerve pathways. Thus, this oral appliance is the most effective solution for teeth clenching.
Since stress is one of the primary causes of teeth grinding, regular exercise can help you to alleviate it. Apart from practicing stress-relieving exercises, tongue and jaw muscle exercises are also recommended to help you deal with teeth soreness.
Warm Bath before Bed
A warm bath before going to bed can relax the muscles in your jaw. You can also apply a heating pad to your jaw if you don’t want to take a bath. Heat helps relax the muscles and reduce teeth grinding.
Avoid Eating Chewy Foods
If you have bruxism, it is better to add foods that require a lot of chewing to your diet. This includes foods like gum, steak, popcorn, etc. This will help with the soreness in your jaw after all the grinding. Moreover, chewing on the tips of pencils and pens should also be avoided as it can make your jaw muscles clench, which can lead to your teeth grinding.
Eliminate Alcohol, Caffeine and Smoking
Alcohol and caffeine makes grinding worse. Thus, skip these substances as they can cause a lot of harm to your teeth.
Continuous grinding and clenching of your teeth can have an adverse impact on your dental and physical health in the long run. From damaged teeth, jaw pain and headaches to jaw joint disorders, it can contribute to a number of issues.
In severe case, people need dentures and surgery to fix this problem. However, with the help of the aforementioned tips, you can prevent your teeth grinding from getting out of hand.