Bruxism, a chronic and potentially destructive parafunctional behavior, is characterized by unconsciously grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. Although this behavior usually occurs during the night, many bruxers grind their teeth during the day, especially during periods of stress or anxiety. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to serious oral health problems like worn enamel, tooth sensitivity, and TMD (TMJ disorder). However, people who have effectively controlled their bruxism usually stick to the following three good habits:

1. They Wear Their Night Guard (Every Night!)

If your dentist identifies the signs of bruxism during a routine checkup, he will probably prescribe a custom-fitted mouth guard. Constructed using a variety of materials, including hard plastic or softer acrylic, night guards cover the teeth to protect them from wear. Some night guards also reposition the teeth to address occlusion problems that may contribute to bruxism and TMD. The success of your night guard treatment depends entirely on your commitment to wearing the appliance every night.

2. They Take Steps to De-Stress

After malocclusion (problems with how your top and bottom teeth meet) chronic stress and unresolved anger or anxiety are the primary causes of bruxism. In addition to wearing a night guard, your dentist will probably suggest taking measures to reduce your stress levels. While eliminating stress altogether is unrealistic, managing how you deal with stress can reduce the severity of your bruxing episodes. A few stress management techniques include:

  • Reducing your daily intake of caffeine. While a cup or two of coffee in the morning can help kick start your day, too much caffeine increases adrenaline and suppresses your ability to relax.
  • Get regular exercise. Whether you opt for yoga, Taekwondo, or a daily walk after dinner, exercise has been shown to reduce your overall stress levels.
  • Manage your time better. Whether this means investing in a day planner or setting your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier, improving how your manage your time will reduce those panicky, stress-inducing moments when you realize you’ve run out of time to complete necessary tasks.

3. They Take Care When Eating

That tough piece of steak, your favorite chewy fruit-flavored taffies, even that ultra-healthy granola cereal your wife talked you into eating for breakfast can wear out jaw muscles already exhausted by nighttime clenching and grinding. People who successfully control their bruxism still enjoy their favorite chewy or crunchy foods but they do so in moderation. Opt for more tender cuts of meat or cooking techniques, like braising, that produce softer meat. Enjoy taffy and chewing gum on occasion, but not every day. Let that granola soak in milk for a few minutes or zap it in the microwave for 25 seconds to soften it up.

About Mansfield Dental Associates:

At Mansfield Dental Associates, Dr. Blair Jones and Dr. Seth Harris share the same vision and philosophy when it comes to patient care. We provide thorough, compassionate preventive dental services in addition to effective treatments for bruxism and TMD. Contact our Mansfield, TX dentist office at 817-473-6227 to schedule your next appointment.