Bruxism — i.e., the habit of grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw without noticing it — is something that sounds fairly harmless, but can actually lead to a variety of health problems. Not only can teeth grinding cause dental health issues, like worn tooth enamel leading to tooth decay and chipped teeth, but it can also cause problems that seem totally unrelated to dental hygiene, like migraines and muscle tension throughout the neck and shoulders.
The serious health effects of bruxism are well-known, and it’s actually a fairly common problem today — it’s estimated that about 40 million Americans grind their teeth, in fact. But the real struggle with teeth grinding seems to lie in the process of diagnosing it: because it’s a habit that most people develop unconsciously as a response to stress, and because so many people grind their teeth at night, only about 80% of all people who suffer from this habit are even aware that they have it.
If you suspect that you may suffer from bruxism, the first step is to see a dentist for a professional opinion. Once you’re positive that you’re dealing with this problem, there are a few bruxism treatment options — many that are very affordable and simple — that could make a huge difference:
- Since teeth grinding is often caused by increased stress, it’s a good idea to develop habits that keep you calm and relaxed, like yoga or meditation, and to stay away from excess sugar, caffeine or other stimulants.
- Monitoring the types of food you consume can also ease the effects of bruxism. Because the muscles in your jaw are probably already pretty sore, try to stay away from chewy foods and things like gum, which will only make it worse.
- And last but not least, something that your dentist can help you with is finding a plastic mouth guard to wear at night that will keep you from grinding your teeth together. Much like athletic guards, these are plastic, flexible, and immediately ease the pain associated with teeth grinding.
Now we’re asking you for some help! If you suffer from this problem, do you have any advice for treatment options? Anything that didn’t work so well? Feel free to share your advice and opinions down in the comments section! Continue reading here.