If you grind your teeth, you probably already know that your habit gets worse when your stress level goes up. Not only does tooth grinding cause damage to your teeth, but it can also result in jaw pain and migraines. Using stress-reducing strategies can help lower the risk of damage to your teeth and keep your mouth and body healthy.
Breathe Deep. Increasing your oxygen intake helps to lower your stress level. Find a relaxing spot in your home and inhale for three seconds, then exhale for three seconds. Repeat this process for several minutes until you feel relaxed.
Get Zen. Meditation is a great way to unwind and relax because it re-centers your energy away from your stress. Sit or lie down on the floor and rest your hands on your knees or thighs. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply. Let go of your stress by focusing on your body starting at your arms and working your way down to your feet. Continue to breathe and work your way back up from your feet to your head.
Relax Your Jaw. When you are stressed, you hold your jaw muscles tight and tense. You can relax your jaw muscles through massage. Place your fingers 1 inch in front of your ears in the space just below your cheekbones. Press into the area firmly and move your hands in a circular motion upward.
Another way to relax your jaw is to open your mouth as wide as you can for as long as you can several times throughout the day.
Watch What You Drink. Skip caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee, energy drinks and hot chocolate at bedtime. While these drinks don’t necessarily increase your stress level, they are stimulants and contribute to tooth grinding. The same goes for alcoholic beverages.
Stop Smoking. Smoking is terrible for both your oral and overall health, but nicotine is also a stimulant that can cause you to grind your teeth while you sleep. Most e-cigarettes also contain nicotine and can contribute to your tooth-grinding habit.
Ask Dr. Caracioni About a Mouth Guard. Getting fitted with a plastic mouth guard can protect your teeth from damage and keep the pressure even across your jaw and mouth. Mouth guards can also reduce jaw pain, head pain and tension in your neck and shoulders.