Five Simple Tips to Stop Teeth Grinding By James Stein on April 20, 2024

dental x-rayTeeth grinding and clenching are common habits. Occasional grinding is unlikely to cause significant damage, but regular teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism) can lead to dental complications. Bruxism places excess force on the teeth. Over time, bruxism can cause issues such as dental damage, gum recession, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

Stopping the effects of teeth grinding is not always easy because people often aren’t aware that they suffer from bruxism. Bruxism is usually diagnosed by a dentist who notices dental damage. Once bruxism is diagnosed, Dr. James Stein offers his Boston, MA, patients tips to stop teeth grinding and protect the mouth from further dental damage.

1. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Teeth grinding is frequently a result of stress. Usually, tension builds throughout the day, causing people to subconsciously grind and clench their teeth while they sleep. By implementing relaxation techniques throughout the day, individuals can reduce stress and discourage teeth grinding. Each person should find the practices that help them unwind and let go of stress and anxiety. Some helpful relaxation techniques include:

  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Therapy
  • Deep breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

2. Relax the Jaw Muscles

It is important to relax not just the mind, but specifically the jaw muscles. Tense jaw muscles can throw off the balance of the bite and increase the likelihood of teeth grinding. Several practices target the jaw muscles and encourage relaxation. The following tips are especially helpful before bed:

  • Gently massage the jaw muscles
  • Drink a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea to warm the muscles
  • Take a warm bath
  • Apply a heating pad or warm compress to the outside of the jaw

3. Reduce Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol and caffeine can both contribute to teeth grinding. Caffeine is a stimulant that can activate the muscles and lead to clenching and grinding. Alcohol alters the neurotransmitters in the brain, which interrupts sleep patterns and can cause muscles to hyperactivate, increasing the likelihood of teeth grinding. Reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, especially before bed, reduces the possibility of teeth grinding.

4. Minimize Chewing

Chewing is one of the primary functions of the teeth and jaw. However, excessive chewing overworks the jaw muscles, increasing the risk of teeth grinding and clenching. We recommend that our Boston patients minimize chewing by avoiding biting and chewing on non-food objects such as pens, pencils, and fingernails. Individuals should also refrain from chewing on ice and should minimize gum chewing.

5. Seek Dental Treatment

Oftentimes, dental treatments effectively stop teeth grinding. Dr. Stein examines the teeth and jaw to determine the most likely cause of grinding and clenching. Depending on what he finds, he may recommend that our Boston patients undergo orthodontic treatment to correct the bite, undergo TMJ disorder treatment to relax jaw muscles, adopt the use of a custom mouthguard while sleeping, or undergo restorative dentistry treatments to repair dental damage.

Contact Us

Teeth grinding is a potentially harmful habit that can compromise dental health and jaw functions. To learn how dental treatments can help you stop teeth grinding and avoid long-term dental complications, send us a message and request an appointment at our dental practice.

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Drs. Stein

James M. Stein, DMD

Our dental practice has been trusted by Boston patients for over 30 years. Together, Dr. James M. Stein and Brett E. Stein are members of various renowned organizations, including: 

  • American Dental Association
  • Massachusetts Dental Society
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American College of Prosthodontists

If you are ready to achieve optimal oral and overall health, call our office at (617) 227-6076 or request an appointment online.

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