You wake up after what you think is a restful night of sleep… but your jaw hurts. That’s most likely because you have spent that night, while in your deep sleep, grinding your teeth together. This is not an innocent habit, either. It can wind up with several things happening, including temporomandibular joint disorder and cracked teeth.
This is not something that you want to be continuing for a long time. It can wind up with other side effects, just like TMJ-caused dizziness, which can make life trying. So it’s best to figure out how to stop it or at least manage it so it won’t have a full impact. The good news is that it can usually be done in an inexpensive way using things that you already have at home.
Pinpoint What Causes It
Bruxism, or grinding your teeth, is caused by a variety of things. You could subconsciously be clenching your jaw when you’re sitting at your desk writing something. It most often happens while sleeping. This whole thing is usually rooted in anxiety and once you have figured out what the cause is, it’s a matter of stopping it.
Yes, there are certain obstacles that might prevent you from making a clean break from the underlying issue. For example, the economic climate might not be suitable for you to stop working at one job and look for another. You might be more relaxed, yes, but it’s also difficult to eat if you’re not bringing in enough income to buy food to put on the table.
Add Different Things To Your Nighttime Routine
If you can’t change the true underlying issue, then you can adapt certain parts of your daily routine to mitigate the stress. For example, you can meditate in the morning or the evening. Yoga is a possibility. Also, you can have massages done or you could put a heating pad on a particularly tense area to loosen it up. There are muscle relaxers available. Take a few minutes every hour to be mindful how your body is reacting at a given time. Typing and you find that your shoulders are bunched up? Loosen them. The same goes for your jaw. Unclench it.
It’s all about being mindful of how your body reacts to things going on around you – otherwise known as external stressors. Have you had a particularly annoying conversation, or have a meeting that did not go your way? Is there a financial situation that is making you upset? While you may not be able to immediately fix whatever is bothering you, you can see it for what it is and try to do things to calm yourself like deep breathing.
Use a Mouthguard When Sleeping
This is often the most-used solution. The dentist will take an impression of your mouth and create a mouthguard – usually made of plastic – that you wear each night. The mouthguard keeps your upper and lower jaw from touching… and thus grinding against each other. You may still clench your jaw when sleeping, but your teeth are still protected. That way, you wake up in the morning and you won’t have to worry about possibly cracked teeth.
There are other things you can do to ensure that you don’t damage your teeth if you get stressed. That means no chewing on things like pen caps or your fingernails or ice cubes. Those can also cause things like cracked teeth. Try those calming techniques mentioned earlier, like deep breathing or yoga.
If you are really stuck on this problem, then you might need to see a dental specialist to see if you should have corrective jaw surgery. This should be the last resort, but people have gotten results from doing this. Talk to your dentist about this if you feel it has reached that point.
Dr. Robert M. Trager has seen a lot of patients who have had trouble with grinding their teeth or clenching their jaw. He’s used his years of experience to help them to stop doing this. He’s at the JFK-LGA Dentist office and you can call him at 718-656-4747 to make an appointment today.