Clenching or grinding your teeth is also known as bruxism, and it’s a common problem. There are a number of reasons you might be grinding your teeth, ranging from stress to dental problems. Allowing the problem to go untreated can result in damage to your teeth and gum tissue. You can use the following tips to relieve jaw tension, so you’ll stop clenching.
Practice Jaw Exercises
Exercising your jaw will keep it loose, so you’ll have a broader range of motion. An easy exercise to try is to push the tip of your tongue against the back of your upper teeth as you lower your bottom row of teeth. As you separate the two rows of teeth, be sure to keep your jaw relaxed.
Get a Botulinum Toxin Treatment
If you think your teeth clenching is caused by stress, seeing a plastic surgeon or skin care specialist can help. Botulinum toxin, which is more commonly known as Botox, can be used to alleviate the clenching and grinding of teeth. As it’s injected into the masseter muscle, which is the muscle responsible for jaw movement, it works to alleviate tension. Your jaw becomes more relaxed, preventing your jaw from clenching.
Restrict Your Diet
If you’re experiencing temporary jaw tension, eating softer foods can alleviate the stress your jaw muscles are under. This will help reduce inflammation of the muscles and relieve jaw pain. In addition to soups, try eating applesauce, yogurt, cottage cheese, and soft cheeses.
Wear a Mouthguard
You may need to visit your dentist to address any dental problems that are causing you to clench your jaw muscles. Your dentist can also fit you with a mouth guard that you’ll be able to wear to bed. The guard will be measured specifically for your teeth, so it will fit comfortably and stay in place all night long. Mouth guards are effective, because they provide a barrier between the upper and lower teeth.
There are other treatments you can try at home to alleviate jaw stress. These include applying a hot or cold compress against your jaw muscles just before bed. You can also take an NSAID, or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, which consists of aspirin and other over the counter pain relievers.
Jaw clenching can be prevented by practicing proper dental care habits and engaging in relaxing activities to alleviate stress. Much like the rest of your body, the condition of your jaw and mouth depends on practicing a healthy lifestyle. This includes regular check-ups to supplement the healthy activities you practice at home.