How to manage grinding your teeth
We teach you how to manage grinding your teeth!
Why do we grind our teeth?
Jayden our head Myotherapist says that teeth grinding, is a common condition that involves an individual involuntary grinding their teeth, generally while they are asleep.
Grinding can be forceful and lead to a number of other health complaints and compromise the strength of your teeth and gums.
There are several factors that may be involved in causing clenching and grinding Jayden says.
“Some but not all can include sleep disorders, airway obstruction, breathing difficulty, traumatic injuries, chronic pain, stress, anxiety, depression, drugs/medications, smoking, caffeine, alcohol, certain foods as well as feelings of anxiety, anger or deep concentration.
Seeking professional help is a critical first step: we recommend a myotherapist, physiotherapist and dentist!
As a myotherapist, I see patients weekly coming in complaining of jaw pain from clenching and grinding. Some spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on splints, mouth-guards, botox and many other numerous treatment modalities.
Most patients don’t even know they are clenching or grinding their teeth until the pain becomes unbearable.
With lock-downs and more time being spent at home, watching tv and staying up late we have seen an increase of jaw soreness and pain. Home schooling, working from home and losing financial stability all leads to an increase in stress. For some people it’s there “default”.
After years of increasing jaw pain, my patients sought professional assistance in order to help manage the problem, something Jayden Seracino urges is a critical first step in treating Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD) due to its complexity.
“The jaw and neck are intimately connected”, Jayden says meaning sometimes it’s worth trying to figure out if it’s neck pain causing jaw pain or possibly the reverse. There are many parts which need to be addressed in order to determine the issue and focus on a long term prevention and management plan.
Jayden believes that working together with other health professionals often get the best results. A myotherapist for internal/external jaw work (manual therapy), possibly dry needling for certain individuals works well. A dentist to assess the structure of the jaw, making sure the joints are how they should be and giving us a negative to structural issues. Leading towards muscular discomfort from the overall addition of stress/stimulus.
Some of the treatments these experts use are not invasive and some can even be done at home by you!
What can you do to help manage your grinding?
For some, the trigger for most people’s common jaw pain was stress, and at its worst patients experienced intense pain, constant headaches and disrupted sleep.
Jayden has relieved many patients jaw and neck pain in one treatment that offered “immediate relief and improvement”. But because conditions can be ongoing, some patients maintains regular treatments and also self-manage their condition at home.
Jayden’s home tips for Jaw Pain:
- Hot compress. “At least twice in an hour if the pain is really bad. And twice a day as a regular habit I’m working towards.”
- Push tongue up on the roof of the mouth.“I try to do this all the time, when I’m working, walking or lying down, etc. It helps me unclench my jaw.”
- Specific exercises such as self-massage, releasing the muscles in the mouth and jaw. “These are probably my number-one go-to, especially when I’m at work and don’t have access to a hot compress. And they work too! I often feel a release from the pain or discomfort almost immediately.”
- Internal & External Jaw massages, explained in more detail by visiting your health professionals.
What I have found helpful:
I have found dental splints made to protect teeth from the damage patients do by grinding them together. Unfortunately, while the splint protects the teeth and muscles, it doesn’t actually stop patients grinding.
To help with loosening the muscles and relieving the pain associated, I have used TMJ myotherapy, physiotherapy and dry needling, massage, hot compresses and exercises.
Teeth grinding self-management tips:
- Awareness. Become more aware if you are clenching, grinding, bracing, or tensing your jaw muscles during the day. Sometimes just being more aware that we’re tensing our jaw muscles can make a huge difference.
- Make small adjustments to your lifestyle habits that may exacerbate the bruxism muscles. E.g. avoid chewing gum, don’t chew your nails or pen lids, eat soft foods, cut foods up into smaller pieces, avoid drink bottles where you have to suck the water up (instead squirt it).
- Certain stretches and self-massage techniques to the jaw and head/neck muscles can also help relieve pain and tension. Consult with a health practitioner trained in TMJ to properly learn DIY techniques.
- Find the right pillow.
- Sleep position. Side sleeping is the ideal position for your jaw, neck and back.
- Posture. For example, when using two computer screens makes sure both are in front of you rather than having one to the side because turning your neck “can create unnecessary mechanical stress on the neck and thus the jaw structures”. Also, don’t rest your jaw on your fist as it “loads the jaw”, and avoid looking down at your phone or table for extended periods.
- Finally, set reminders. Set alarms on your phone or use apps to alert you during the day to check on your posture and to check if you are clenching or grinding.
This is general information only. For personal advice, you should see a qualified medical practitioner.