Reduce Teeth Grinding with These Tips

Bruxism, more commonly referred to as teeth grinding, is a movement disorder that causes a person to clench, gnash, and grind their teeth together. About 30% of the population grind. Most people with bruxism are nocturnal (night time) grinders and their habit is often the result of stress and anxieties they feel in their waking life.

Bruxism causes extreme wear on your teeth and can lead to permanent damage to your teeth and jaw joints if left untreated. Treatment options are available—so take control and don’t let bruxism bother you anymore.

Symptoms of Bruxism

Many who grind are unaware of the habit because it occurs during sleep.

Here are the signs and symptoms of bruxism:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Excessive wear or attrition that flattens teeth
  • Tooth fractures or chipped or broken teeth
  • Broken fillings and crowns
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain or tenderness in the ear or temporomandibular joints (jaw)
  • Pain when chewing
  • Clicking or popping noise when talking or chewing
  • Hypertrophy of the muscles that move the jaw
  • Pain in the temples

The causes of bruxism are not entirely known and heavily debated. This subconscious behaviour is related to stress. Research shows nocturnal bruxism is related to disturbances in a person’s central nervous system causing sleep arousal. Sleep disturbance is linked to psychological factors, such as stress.

Imbalances in the dopaminergic system can also cause sleep disturbance. This can happen as the result of an individual’s lifestyle. Bruxism is more common with people who have nutritional deficiencies or smoke.

Relax Your Mind and Body

If you brux, regulating your sleep pattern is key. Give yourself an hour to relax before going to bed.

Here are some ideas of ways to unwind so you ensure a quality night’s rest:

  • Cut out caffeine 4 hours before bed
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol
  • Take a hot bath
  • Read a book
  • Meditate—focus on relaxing your jaw
  • Write in a journal

Because stress and anxiety are the main causes of teeth grinding, try to incorporate stress-relieving activities into your routine. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. Try going for a walk every night after dinner or attend an aerobics class a few nights a week. Yoga is great solution for those who brux, as it combines exercise and meditation.

Depending on the severity of your stress, you may consider speaking to a counsellor. They can teach you methods for coping with problems and provide an outlet for you to vent frustrations.

If you feel emotionally stressed, you might try incorporating some cognitive behavioural therapy techniques. Changing your mental thought process can help you cope with emotional losses, such as death and severe anxiety like PTSD.

Supplement Nutritional Deficiencies

Many people with bruxism are lacking basic nutrients that support healthy cognitive function. If you grind your teeth, try changing your diet to see if your symptoms improve. Research shows that individuals who incorporate foods high in vitamin B-5, vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium sleep deeper at night.

Additionally, supplementing these vitamins and minerals is shown to lower anxiety and promote cognitive functions during waking hours. Taking an oral supplement is optional, however, supplementation is not as effective as eating foods rich in these essential vitamins and minerals.

Here are some foods you can eat to improve your health and stop grinding:

Vitamin B-5
This vitamin supports the synthesis of the foods we eat. It helps regulate glucose and breaks down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates so our bodies can use the energy to repair tissue and rebuild muscle. Vitamin B-5 also helps regulate hormones. You can find vitamin B-5 in fish, chicken, and eggs.

Magnesium and Calcium
Magnesium and Calcium are both natural sleep aids. Calcium is a mineral that helps support your bones. Magnesium is an essential mineral that regulates over 300 chemical reactions in your body. It promotes nerve function and is used to treat anxiety, fatigue, fibromyalgia, and restless leg syndrome.

Magnesium is naturally found in legumes, whole grains, green leafy vegetables (particularly broccoli), seeds, and nuts. Calcium is naturally found in dairy products like milk and cheese. These supplements work great together as natural soothers and will help you relax before bed.

Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure and maintains fluid balance. Abnormal levels of potassium can cause a person to have an irregular heartbeat. It is extremely important that you do not over-supplement this mineral—it’s dangerous.

Potassium is found in bananas, tomatoes, potato skins, and orange juice.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C supports your immune system, repairs damage to your body, fights cardiovascular disease, fights eye disease, and regenerates your skin. This vitamin takes part in a vast amount of your body’s functions. It should be eaten earlier in the day—as it can support your energy. However, if you are low in vitamin C, you will have trouble sleeping at night.

Vitamin C is readily available in many foods. Most people are not deficient in this vitamin. Fruit is the best source for adequate amounts of vitamin C.

Nutrition and lifestyle changes may not be sufficient for you to fully stop bruxism. Additionally, for some people, the root cause of bruxism may have more to do with a poor/malaligned bite or missing teeth. For more information about bruxism, contact your Red Deer dentist at Parkland Mall Dental Centre. We can evaluate your condition and provide treatment options that are customized to your needs.