Believe it or not, one in three people are grinding their teeth at night. This common condition, which is also known as bruxism, can cause serious damage to your teeth, jaw, and gums if left untreated. Unfortunately, for many people, the standard treatment of wearing a mouth guard doesn’t solve the issue.
In this article, I’ll share a few of the most effective treatment strategies for bruxism. These treatments include health supplements, alternative treatments, and very helpful yet often overlooked methods that manage your subconscious mind and allow you to sleep without gnashing your teeth.
De-Stress before Bed
Mastication, or chewing, can be either voluntary or subconscious. You can carefully chew something, or you can focus on something else while your jaw automatically chews your food for you. In the case of bruxism, sometimes your jaw can clench and grind the teeth during the night because of excessive stress, some of which you may not even know you have.
If you want to reduce the chances of grinding your teeth at night, you should get into a healthy bedtime routine that promotes deep relaxation. One excellent strategy is to take a warm bath with Epsom salts before bed. While in the bath your body will absorb the magnesium from the Epsom salts which have a relaxing effect on your muscles. Another great habit to get into is drinking a soothing herbal tea like decaffeinated green tea with jasmine or chamomile before bed. Also, it’s a good idea to turn off all electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime to improve your body’s natural Circadian rhythm.
Supplementation for Stress
There are many herbs and nutritional supplements on the market that can naturally reduce your stress levels. One great supplement to try out is the amino acid L-theanine. L-Theanine is a compound naturally found in green tea that’s highly regarded for its ability to help the body naturally relax. Another supplement to look into is licorice root. Licorice root is considered an adaptogenic herb, which basically means it helps the body deal with (or “adapt”) to everyday stressors. Lastly, you might want to consider taking a high-quality magnesium-calcium supplement. Sometimes bruxism is actually a sign of a magnesium deficiency. You want to have a bit of calcium with your magnesium, because the two minerals work in balance with each other, and too much magnesium could cause diarrhea.
Alternative Treatment Ideas
Many people with bruxism have experienced benefits using alternative therapies such as acupuncture, reflexology, weekly massages, and infrared sauna therapy. If you’re easily susceptible, a few sessions with a certified hypnotist could work wonders for your teeth grinding issue. Even starting a daily 15-minute meditation routine has been shown to dramatically reduce stress in patients with bruxism. If you have a “monkey mind” that just can’t sit still for standard breath meditation, this technique may be helpful, or you can try a guided meditation on a downloadable app. Alternatively, practicing physical forms of mindfulness like Taichi or attentive walking can also be very useful.
Even just making a habit of focusing on your breathing throughout the day can help condition your body to relax at night. You may even notice that you have a habit of clenching your teeth when awake. Eliminating this habit during the day may help your mind avoid it at night.
Personalized Mouth Guards for Bruxism
If you’re not able to fix the problem psychologically through your subconscious, you may consider trying using a mouth guard at night. Having a guard in place can create a barrier between your upper and lower teeth and reposition the jaw to avoid the problems associated with bruxism. Thanks to the advances in 3D printing, most dentists can take a scan or mould of your mouth in their office and order a personalized mouth guard. Although it costs a pretty penny, these personalized mouth guards can save you from serious dental costs down the road. You might also want to talk with a dentist like Town Center Family Dental about procedures that can help even out your bite. A few strategies dentists recommend for fixing your bite include orthodontics, putting in porcelain inlays, or inserting dental bridges.
The Battle against Bruxism Is Not Won in a Day
Hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas to help you win your battle against bruxism. The more of these methods you incorporate into your daily life, the better chance you have of reducing or even getting rid of your teeth grinding issue. Although it’s difficult, with time, practice, and patience, you can reclaim your subconscious mind and kick bruxism out of your life.
Photo: Visual Hunt