If you frequently wake up with a sore jaw, a dull headache or tooth
pain, you may want to ask a qualified dental professional if you
are suffering from a condition called bruxism. Bruxism, or teeth
grinding affects about 10 to 15 percent of adults, according to the
American Dental Association.
There are several ways to alleviate the effects of bruxism. One of
the most common, which your dentist may recommend, is a night
guard. This is an appliance typically worn while sleeping through
the night, which is available without a prescription at most
pharmacies. To use the appliance, you simply boil it, let it cool
for a few seconds and then gently bite into it to shape it to your
Night guards are also available through your dentist. Guards of
this type tend to be of a higher quality and superior fit, as they
are made in a special laboratory from an impression of your mouth
carefully taken by a dental professional. This is generally a more
expensive device than one purchased over-the-counter, but can be
more comfortable to wear.
Regardless of where a night guard is purchased, its main function
is to prevent the surfaces of your teeth from grinding together,
causing you to chip and crack your teeth and strain your jaw
Other Treatments for Teeth Grinding
If a night guard is uncomfortable, there are other possible
treatments listed below that you can ask your dentist about.
- Teeth straightening: Teeth that are out of alignment--what dentists call
malocclusion--can contribute to teeth grinding. This can be
remedied by corrective measures such as braces.
- Stress prevention: One of the main causes of bruxism is anxiety, so your dentist
might advise you to utilize one or more at-home methods of
relaxation, like meditation, or in some cases professional
counseling, to get you to relax and stop clenching your jaw.
- Change of diet or medication: Your dentist might recommend avoiding stimulants, such as
caffeine, to reduce teeth grinding. Certain medications, such as
antidepressants, might also contribute to the issue, so make sure
you tell your dentist about any medications you are taking so he
can suggest an alternative if one is warranted.
The most important thing to know about bruxism is that it can be
treated with the help of a dentist.