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9 Natural Solutions to Teeth Grinding to Try Tonight
by Dylan Hao |
If you’ve recently noticed you grind your teeth at night, you might be surprised to learn that millions of people have this dental problem. More common in kids, there are still plenty of adults who “randomly” start clenching and grinding their teeth.
In the medical community, this condition is called bruxism, and it can happen when you’re awake or asleep.
Most people with chronic bruxism have sleep bruxism, making it a little more difficult to fix since you don’t consciously know you’re doing it.
Difficult, but not impossible.
Read on to find out how to use natural remedies to reduce this problem tonight!
One of the primary symptoms of sleep bruxism is sore jaw muscles. Because you’re clenching and grinding unconsciously, you often exert massive bite force. This pressure causes damage to all the muscles connected to the jaw, including your face, neck, and upper back.
To reduce the discomfort of your jaw pain and related aches, try stretch exercises that use those muscles.
Don’t worry if you hate exercising. These are more of a gentle stretch using your fingers to complete, with no sweat involved.
Here are three simple at-home exercises to get you started:
Place your index finger inside your mouth on your last back tooth, roll it back, then up. You may feel soreness in this muscle area. Push your finger against this muscle to gently relieve tension. Repeat with the opposite side.
Move your fingers to the front of your ear, near your earlobe. Massage this area gently until it is no longer sore. Move about a half-inch down, following your jaw muscle and ear line, and repeat. Finally, move down to where your jaw and neck meet below your ear. Repeat. These three points are responsible for many of the bruxism-related earaches you feel.
Practice keeping your lips together, tongue in place, and teeth apart. This is the standard resting position of the mouth, but it doesn’t come naturally for those with a sore jaw. When you do this daily, every time you think about it, it becomes a habit that continues into your sleep.
These basic stretches don’t require anything but your mouth and fingertips. Do them as often as you can throughout the day, making them a part of your normal routine.
You’ve heard the recommendation to use heat when something hurts. The problem is that many people confuse dry, electric heating pads with moist heat solutions. Dry heat works for certain things, but for the side effects of grinding, stick with moist heat.
Studies show that moist heat gets into the deep tissue of your sore muscles faster than dry heat. It reduces damage to muscle tissue after exercise and gives faster relief from your pain.
The benefits of moist heat last about two hours. You can use your warm compress or a hot towel for twenty minutes at a time, every two hours as needed.
The symptoms of bruxism are almost always tied together with stress and anxiety. Stress may be the cause of your condition or its painful side effects and the nocturnal tossing and turning may also be stressing you out.
Because of this connection, meditation and/or yoga practices are frequently recommended by bruxism experts.
Clearing your mind to relieve anxiety can improve your overall well-being, not just your teeth clenching issues.
Why Quiet Time Is Vital To Your Health
Meditation and yoga are similar, with the distinct difference that meditation is passive while yoga involves active stretches. However, both are intended to be done in a peaceful, quiet environment.
This quiet time is crucial to a person’s health, yet most of us don’t get enough of it in our hectic schedules.
Sitting for a period of silence each day has long-term benefits that help reduce stress and minimize the effects of certain medical conditions.
Yoga and meditation are linked with:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Decreased heart rate
- Reduced muscle tension
- Decreased mental health problems
- Increased focus and self-awareness
In fact, the benefits of these two practices are so significant that some doctors recommend trying them before they will prescribe antidepressants.
Whatever your stress level, yoga and meditation might be excellent ways to reduce your clenching and grinding.
Looking for more unique ways to destress to reduce sleep bruxism? Head to our video and follow the instructions to calm yourself before bedtime.
Humans have used natural remedies for millennia. Only over the last century have pharmaceuticals replaced these herbal fixes and home remedies.
Sometimes, medicine is the better solution. Yet in many cases, there are herbal alternatives that work well.
When it comes to bruxism, these natural solutions can calm your jittery nerves, lower inflammation, and reduce discomfort:
A nice, hot pot of tea brewed in the evening is always soothing.
Use herbal teas, not black or rooibos. Any herbal with valerian, chamomile, or lavender in it is a surefire way to go to bed relaxed.
Pair your tea with a warm bath and some matching candles, and you have a recipe for the perfect evening.
You’ve heard of the spice used in Indian foods, but did you know that turmeric also makes a delicious milk drink?
With a few simple ingredients, you can make a tasty turmeric milk that provides a plethora of health perks, like:
- Reduced muscle aches and pains from turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties
- Increased antioxidants fight cell damage and slow the signs of aging
- Improved sleep quality from turmeric’s ability to regulate amino acids
A glass of turmeric milk in the morning keeps you calm on extra-stressful days, reducing awake bruxism symptoms.
Before bed, this yummy treat ensures a restful slumber.
Over-the-counter melatonin and magnesium supplements aid in improved sleep quality.
Melatonin is the hormone your body produces that tells you when it’s time to sleep. The production cycle is linked to sunrise and sunset, but many outside factors disrupt this natural pattern. Melatonin tablets increase your body’s natural hormone supply, telling your brain it’s time to go to sleep.
Magnesium is a mineral that your body uses for various processes, but you can only get it from external sources. If you don’t have enough magnesium in your diet, your muscles can begin to atrophy, and your sleep is restless.
Add both of these supplements to your evening routine to help reduce grinding.
Sleep Disorder Treatment
In more extreme cases, bruxism is connected to sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea.
If this is your situation, it’s important to use those natural methods of getting better sleep listed earlier. But you’ll also need to work with your medical doctor to solve the underlying condition causing your sleep disorder.
Most doctors attribute bruxism to stress, which is the reality for most people. More recently, research has linked sleep-disorder breathing (SDB), bruxism, and temporomandibular disorders (TMD) together.
The field of dental sleep medicine continues to study this connection. Your dentist or primary care doctor may refer you to an expert that treats SDB.
By resolving the breathing issues you have while you’re asleep, your bruxism may also disappear.
Common therapies for SDB include:
- Muscle relaxants
- CPAP breathing machines
- Sleeping pills
- Environmental and/or lifestyle changes
Not too long ago, conservative medicine was labeled “alternative” therapy and ignored by many mainstream doctors. Now, these same solutions have become the preferred pathway for countless ailments, including muscle pains and bruxism side effects.
Even better, many insurance companies are on board with chiropractic care, physical therapy, and (occasionally) massage therapy.
These three conservative treatments can significantly help your symptoms.
If your symptoms include temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), chiropractic care can help.
Chiropractors use a tool called an activator to address TMD pain. The activator makes a “clicking” movement that produces a low impact adjustment to the jaw. As you open and close your mouth, the doctor feels the movement of the muscle, and “clicks” accordingly to put the joint back in place.
When combined with a dental splint — like a custom night guard — this therapy alleviates sleep bruxism issues.
Ahh, the benefits of a good massage!
First, someone is pampering you from head to toe in a soothing environment with soft music, dim lights, and calming scents.
Then this professional therapist works out the knots and kinks in your muscles in an “Ow that hurts, but it also feels good” kind of way.
Research shows that combining massage with regular night guard use can improve the quality of life for people with bruxism.
Your insurance might even cover this therapy if your doctor prescribes it.
Chiropractic and massage therapies are passive ways to feel better. The experts work on your trigger points, and your body does the rest.
In physical therapy, the therapist teaches you exercises and movements designed to reduce wear and tear on those sensitive areas.
A typical treatment protocol for physical therapy can include two or three visits per week for two to three months.
You’ll learn more than you realize during your sessions, and walk away with an awareness of how your body works that will extend into the rest of your overall health.
Quitting Stimulating Habits
Bruxism occurs when your muscles are so stimulated that they need some form of release. The easiest way to do this is to clench and grind.
But why are you so stimulated in your sleep, anyway?
It could be that you have some habits causing this buildup of potential energy waiting to be released. As soon as you’re in deep sleep, your brain and nervous system move this from potential into kinetic form, grinding and clenching away until the excess stimulation is gone.
Here are a few of the most common stimulating habits bruxers have:
Smokers are significantly more likely to have bruxism than non-smokers.
Alcohol and drug use
Drinking excessive alcohol or using drugs stimulates the nocturnal grinding process. These habits also cause a buildup of bacteria in the mouth, speeding up tooth damage from decay, another typical underlying cause of bruxism.
Is that mocha latté frappé grandé addiction causing your grinding? Caffeine is one of the world’s best-known stimulants, and it may be triggering your grinding. Plus, the sugary sweet isn’t good for your tooth enamel, and cavities increase bruxism.
Your body needs many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to function properly. If your diet doesn’t give you everything you need, one of the first processes affected is your sleep.
While breaking a habit is rarely easy, it’s one of the best “causes” of bruxism you can have. You know what’s creating the problem, and you know how to fix it.
Armed with that knowledge, you can focus on reducing the damage and stopping the habit.
Improving Your Oral Health Routine
When bruxism is a result of tooth decay and damage, improving your oral hygiene routine can help.
Visit the dentist for your regular checkups and dental care wellness. Stay on top of basic care, like fillings and X-rays, as needed.
Brush and floss daily.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice daily for two minutes at a time using fluoride-based toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush.
Dental health treatments are sometimes necessary to correct certain ailments. The field of dentistry has come a long way, and many of these fixes are more comfortable and less invasive than you might think.
If you need a night guard to keep your upper and lower teeth from connecting, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of expensive dental visits.
The right custom-fit night guard can help prevent crooked teeth and reduce other bruxism damage by keeping your teeth from making enamel to enamel contact while you sleep.
The key is to use a professional company like JS Dental Lab, so your oral appliance is comfortable, yet made from high-quality material. Our experts will work with you to determine the severity of your bruxism, and what kind of night guard can help you best.
Consistent use of your new guard will reduce the discomfort and other side effects of bruxism.
You don’t have to live with the pain of grinding and clenching forever.
The sooner you start implementing some of these solutions, like one of our night guards, the quicker you can get back to your normal quality of life.
Ready to order your custom night guard straight from the dental lab? Start shopping JS Dental now.