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4 Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Teeth Grinding

Bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth, causing damage to both your teeth and jaw. Being a common problem, many people are not even aware that it is in an issue in their day-to-day lives.

If teeth grinding is something that you do, it is important that you take action. The sooner you intervene, the less likely you are to experience any further symptoms or irreversible damage.

The Link Between Teeth Grinding and Stress

Before jumping into relaxation techniques, it is important to consider the reason why teeth grinding is so common. Of the possible causes, stress is the greatest contributing factor. In fact, it is suggested that up to 70 percent of cases are due to rising stress levels. Sleep disorders and key lifestyle factors also play roles.

Although the research on teeth grinding is ongoing, it is believed that this damaging behavioral pattern is a coping mechanism. When stress levels increase, so does the prevalence of teeth grinding. In one study, it was found that following an episode of teeth grinding, stress hormones decreased.

Complications Associated with Teeth Grinding

Whether you grind your teeth while you’re awake or while you are sleep, without treatment, the end result will be the same. Once you experience damage, the symptoms can be uncomfortable and even painful. Not only will teeth become flattened or fractured, but you could also wear down your enamel.

Since your enamel cannot regenerate, you will eventually expose the deep layers of your teeth. At that point in time, you will likely experience increased pain and sensitivity, a sore jaw, a dull ache that goes up into your ears, sleep disruption, and an inability to chew food.

If you have any of the symptoms above or would like to take a proactive approach, it is imperative that you see a dentist as soon as possible. If you are a parent and suspect that your child is grinding their teeth, it is important to intervene — especially if some of their adult teeth have already grown in.

Implementing Relaxation Techniques Will Support Both Oral and Mental Health

If stress and tension are causing your teeth grinding symptoms, you can begin to practice key relaxation techniques. As you treat your teeth grinding, you will also be able to reduce anxiety, tension headaches and symptoms associated with insomnia. Working with your dentist, create your personalized treatment plan. In addition to jaw exercises and the use of a mouth guard, please focus on the following four relaxation techniques.

1. Deep breathing

This treatment is so effective because you can begin immediately and all you need is yourself. Since high levels of stress and anxiety can cause teeth grinding, actively focusing on a more relaxing, calming environment is key. This mind-body approach can help you heal as you promote a healthier future.

Deep diaphragmatic breathing not only improves attention and awareness but is also able to significantly reduce cortisol levels. As cortisol levels decline and feelings of stress are more effectively managed, reduce stress-related teeth grinding.

2. Progressive muscle relaxation

This relaxation technique will target stress, insomnia, and anxiety, but also chronic pain. First described in the 1930s, the premise of this technique is that mental calmness can result from physical relaxation. Requiring only 10 to 20 minutes daily, muscle relaxation can be learned with ease.

As you learn to tense and then relax each muscle group, you become more aware of your body. By actively performing this technique on a daily basis, you will be able to reduce muscle tension and pain. In addition, you will also become more mindful when you are physically clenching your jaw.

3. Yoga

Yoga targets the mind, but also promotes a healthier body. Being a non-aerobic form of body conditioning, this ancient practice can make you much more aware of your own behaviors. This goes hand-in-hand with meditation, as you learn to focus your current level of consciousness.

There are specific poses that you should do in order to target teeth grinding. These include “eagle arms” (reducing tension in your shoulder blades) and the “chest stretch” (reducing the tightness caused by the clenched muscles in your jaw).

4. Massage

Not only can regular massage reduce tension, it will also target the muscles throughout your head, neck, face, mouth, and jaw. Massage therapy can benefit TMJ-related pain. Although teeth grinding was not significantly affected, massage techniques did improve jaw range of motion and reduce pain levels.

When combined with other relaxation techniques, localized massage can be highly beneficial. This is something you can discuss with your dentist, followed by a physiotherapist.

If you are currently experiencing any discomfort associated with teeth grinding, please contact one of our offices to schedule an appointment. You only have one set of teeth, so take care of them! After all, Dr. Seuss hit the nail on the head when he said, “Teeth are always in style.”

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