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How to Prevent Teeth Grinding

It can be very aggravating to suffer headaches or jaw pain, all while knowing that it is a result of your teeth clenching or grinding habit.  This is a problem, though, that many people suffer with and most do report that they don’t even realize they are doing it until they begin to feel pain or when someone else points it out.  In addition to the potential hurt associated with grinding teeth, the damage suffered by the teeth can be quite severe, if the problem is not dealt with.  Our dentists are regularly asked for advice on how to stop teeth grinding.

There are several lifestyle changes that you might consider that could help you stop the grinding and clenching that cause your discomfort.

Cut Back on Caffeine

This drug, found in colas, coffees, teas, energy drinks, and even chocolate is a favorite of Americans.  We consume more caffeine than any other country, nearly 1,000 tons of it annually.  Unfortunately, in addition to the energy boost that we so appreciate, caffeine can have many less-appealing effects on the body.  This includes triggering muscle activity — even involuntary muscle activity.

Avoid Alcohol

You don’t have to give it up entirely or forever, but if you regularly consume alcoholic beverages and you have trouble with teeth clenching or grinding, avoid it for a couple of weeks and see if your symptoms improve.  Many report that grinding and clenching tend to be much worse after drinking beer, liquor or wine.

Only Chew Food

It is a common misconception to avoid teeth grinding is to chew gum or some other non-food item.  Of course, this obviously wouldn’t work overnight and the regular jaw exercise can actually increase the likelihood of grinding later.

Retrain the Muscles

It has been proven that a person can ease grinding and clenching by consciously retraining the jaw muscles.  When you catch yourself, relax your jaw, then place your tongue between your teeth for a minute or two.  Repeat this process every time you find yourself grinding or clenching.  Also, when laying down in bed at night, relax your jaw and apply a heating pad to your cheeks.

If none of this works, consult your dentist.  There are measures that can be taken to reduce grinding and clenching.

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