Remember that the seeming harmlessness of such a dental habit as grinding your teeth is just an illusion. In fact, these unintentional lower jaw movements, medically termed “bruxism“, commonly lead to uneven wearing of the teeth which, in turn, may well trigger various orthodontic disorders. What is more, the intensive destruction of the surface of the teeth is closely associated with the development of sensitivity problems.
On top of that, such patients run the greatest risks of their teeth being fractured or even cracked, when the grinding is tough enough. In some severe cases, even recession of the gums and teeth exposure of the roots are observed. More commonly, bruxism is associated with such minor symptoms as sore TMD joint or headache. However, they also must not be ignored, as the former can cause the jaw joint to get locked, and the latter can swiftly turn into a chronic problem.
This raises the urgent need for complex professional dental assistance and development of a plan to stop grinding teeth at home.
What are the side effects and complications of teeth grinding?
The main side effects of bruxism during sleep are breakdown of tooth enamel & permanent damage to dental fillings, crowns and dentures. In severe cases the jaw may also become locked in a position that is uncomfortable and makes it impossible for swelling to go down. Since the condition can cause headaches as well, pain medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided if possible. If these types of pills need to be taken for pain relief in connection with teeth grinding, use only over-the-counter strengths rather than prescription drugs that contain acetaminophen or other ingredients which may irritate stomach lining.
How To Stop Grinding Teeth?
The solution to the problem of grinding teeth gets even more complicated, since the poor habit primarily occurs during the patient’s sleep and, thus, is unintentional, which means that it cannot be voluntarily controlled by him.
What is more, the chances of bruxism raise sharply when the affected individual experiences anxiety or stress. That is why the plan to stop grinding teeth involves both professional medical assistance and thorough at home relaxation and self-control.
Nowadays, dental care providers accept three proven methods to stop grinding teeth, which include orthodontic treatments, such as wearing night mouthguards, mandibular advancement devices, and certain relaxation techniques. You can find additional, yet unproven approaches and even remedies, including even raw food diets online, but I really cannot advise you to follow them.
How Can Orthodontic Treatments Stop Me from Grinding My Teeth?
Today, there are two orthodontic approaches to stop grinding teeth. The first one involves complex orthodontic procedures aimed at the correction of malocclusion and, thus, is recommended when the patient’s bruxism is associated with a bad bite problem. The second method does not require correction or restoration of the upper teeth and is targeted at them only.
What Do Complex Orthodontic Treatments to Stop Grinding Teeth Focus on?
Such treatment plans are traditionally subdivided into three stages: malocclusion management, rehabilitation, and further dental therapy. The latter phase usually involves restoration of the damaged upper teeth and wearing a night mouth guard on the upper jaw up to the point when the patient finally stops grinding his teeth.
Often, patients wear their dental braces together with the night mouth guards and, therefore, benefit from the combination of the first and third phases of the plan to stop grinding teeth. In such a case, they will need a plastic protector covering both their upper and lower jaws.
When Can the First Two Treatment Stages Be Skipped?
However, when the teeth grinding habit is a purely psychological disorder, all the patient needs are the dental appliances to protect his teeth from wearing and shifting. This approach to stopping grinding teeth is also beneficial for children, who usually start grinding their teeth during their permanent dentition.
These bruxism-associated lower jaw movements usually stop when the teething is over, but still necessitate protection of the upper teeth and jaw joint, so both categories of patients need some type of mouth guard. These protective devices usually slightly differ in their appearance, comfort levels, and teeth coverage area.
Dental care providers warn us that the stock mouth protector is actually not the best night guard option to stop grinding teeth, since it does not allow individual fitting and can potentially cause difficulties in talking and even breathing. From this point of view, custom-fitted mouth protectors, which also have a range of models, are a far better option to stop grinding teeth. Custom-fitted night mouth guard models include a nocturnal bite plate and bite splint. The final choice between these two devices is to be made by your dentist in strict accordance with your related dental problems and needs.
Remember that even the most up-to-date bite splints just prevent the teeth from being ruined and producing highly annoying clenching sounds and serve to relieve strain on the jaw muscles, but do not solve the teeth grinding problem permanently.
Why Do Mandibular Advancement Devices Work for Reducing the Teeth Grinding?
Previously used exclusively for management of snoring and sleep apnoea, mandibular advancement devices have recently been proven to effectively reduce teeth grinding. Unlike mouth guards, these dental appliances not only protect the teeth, but also reduce the number of lower jaw clenching movements per night.
The scientific explanation behind this highly unusual method to stop grinding teeth is based on the fact that the moderate pain the MADs send each time the lower jaw moves makes people avoid the teeth grinding habit even when they stop wearing the device during their sleep.
How to Stop Grinding Teeth by Using Psychological Techniques?
Dental care experts highlight that the trigger behind the teeth grinding habit is often purely psychological. That is why the numerous relaxation, autosuggestion, and even hypnosis techniques have proven to be unexpectedly effective approaches to stop grinding teeth.
The scientific explanation behind such a holistic bruxism management approach as relaxation is that numerous yoga and meditation techniques considerably boost the patient’s self-esteem and, therefore, lower emotional stress and anxiety. This causes the facial and, particularly, jaw muscles to relax and the teeth grinding events to reduce.
Even though the autosuggestion approach to stopping grinding teeth obviously lacks scientific strength, it actually helps many people with bruxism to control their poor habit, even during their sleep, by merely causing their mental set to wake up whenever they start grinding their teeth.
An even more mysterious approach to stopping grinding teeth is based on hypnosis. Many psychologists treat this as the only way of managing bruxism cases associated with deep mental traumas. In line with professional applied medical research, some patients have been experiencing major positive changes for up to thirty-six months after their hypnosis session.
Finally, remember that your home practices to stop grinding teeth must be carefully monitored by your medical care provider.
Home Care Tips for Coping With Sleep Bruxism
Keep stress to a minimum. Take a hot bath before bed each night, try yoga and other exercises that promote relaxation and consume foods such as bananas which have natural tranquilizing qualities.
Avoid substances like alcohol or nicotine which can trigger anxiety attacks or jaw tightening episodes of tooth grinding during sleep.
If you feel you may be suffering from bruxism related to stress or anxiety, there are medications available that may help relieve chronic tension including tricyclic antidepressants, SSRI anti-depressants and beta blockers. Medications for treating sleep apnea include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, oral appliances and weight loss surgery. In some cases dental splints are used to stop teeth grinding in sleep placing pressure on the upper and lower teeth so they cannot come into contact.
The American Sleep Association advises people that grinding your teeth in sleep may indicate a need for psychological counseling to deal with relevant issues of stress, anxiety or depression. Dental splints which keep the jaw forward are another option if an oral appliance is not possible due to potential breathing problems.- Discuss treatment options with your dentist as soon as you detect any grinding symptoms during sleep.