Hannah Coad – Myotherapist
Ever woken up with a splitting headache and an unusually tight jaw? Or caught yourself clenching your jaw while concentrating on an important task at work? Chances are, you may have experienced teeth clenching or grinding (known as bruxism) at some point in your life. For most people it is triggered by increased stress, tension or anxiety. Many don’t realise they grind or clench their teeth as it most often occurs during sleep – so you may not become aware of it until a partner hears this grinding throughout the night and tells you, or your dentist notices signs of wear and tear on the teeth. If it becomes a regular habit, clenching or grinding your jaw can lead to an array of problems such as damage to your teeth, headaches, neck pain, and jaw pain or dysfunction, so it’s best to tackle the issue as soon as possible.
Check out our tips below for managing teeth clenching and grinding:
- Stress management: relieving stress is one of the key factors in reducing grinding and clenching. Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness are a great place to start, and there’s plenty of apps (such as Smiling Mind, Insight Timer, Calm) to guide you along the way. You may also want to chat to your GP about putting together a mental health care plan if you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress or anxiety.
- Develop a good sleep routine: allow yourself some time in the evenings to relax and wind down from the day. Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, switch off from screen time (no scrolling social media in bed!), have a warm bath or shower, drink a herbal cuppa, listen to a sleep meditation, or practice some breathing techniques – find what works best for you to increase your chances of having a calming night’s rest.
- Avoid chewing gum & chewy foods: chewing gum can perpetuate the rhythmic, gnashing motion of grinding your teeth. Give gum (and other chewy foods) a miss to give your jaw a break and ease any soreness.
- Chat to your dentist: it’s important to check in with your dentist to determine if there is any damage to your teeth, which can worsen over time. Your dentist may fit you with a custom night guard or splint to protect your teeth while you sleep. Though this won’t stop you from grinding or clenching completely, it can prevent further damage from occurring.
- Jaw self massage: when the muscles around your jaw are working overtime they can become sore and tense. Try this quick self-massage to help relax the jaw muscles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd0nD4w3Azk&feature=emb_title
- Physical treatment: Myotherapy and Osteopathy are both effective methods for treating bruxism. If you think you may be suffering from symptoms related to grinding and clenching your teeth, get in touch to make a booking and see how we can help.