The problem of bruxism, more commonly known as teeth grinding, is something that affects an estimated 40 million Americans. It’s a frustrating problem partly because there are so many causes, and partly because there are so many treatment options that it gets difficult to pick one that works (and doesn’t break the bank) — but mostly, teeth grinding is so frustrating because the majority of people who suffer from the problem don’t even realize that they have it. In most cases, patients begin experiencing serious health problems (like migraines, muscle aches, and a variety of issues concerning dental health), all of which seem to appear without any cause.
Diagnosing bruxism tends to be the most difficult part, so if your dentist has already determined that teeth grinding is the problem, then the worst part is over! There are plenty of oral health products to choose from, like plastic night guards, which many people find to be affordable and effective. But if you’re still looking for some other treatment options — perhaps some things you can do while waiting for your mouth guard to be fitted — here are just a few simple ways that you might be able to find some relief:
- Try to stay away from foods, drinks, and drugs that contain caffeine and/or other stimulants (although make sure to talk to your doctor first before going off a prescription stimulant). Stimulants tend to increase anxiety and muscle tension, which could make the effects of teeth grinding even worse.
- On the other hand, depressants — most notably alcohol — should also be avoided as much as possible. Alcohol consumption is often linked to increased grinding; if nothing else, studies have also shown that too much alcohol causes poor sleep cycles. If you’re not getting high-quality sleep and/or experiencing other sleep-related problems, you’re more likely to suffer from teeth grinding.
- And finally, try to refrain from habits like biting your nails or biting your pencil. These habits will only increase the strain put on your jaw and could amplify the pain of sensitive teeth. Additionally, if you’ve developed these habits in response to stress, you’re more likely to clench your jaw or grind your teeth without even realizing it.
Now we’re asking you for some help — if you’ve suffered from teeth grinding in the past, what tips worked or didn’t work for you? Be sure to share your advice, and any questions you have, in the comments section!