The unconscious clenching or grinding of the teeth, otherwise known as bruxism, is seen by some as a minor concern. However, if you are grinding your teeth on a regular basis, dental issues can soon start to emerge, such as chipped and worn tooth enamel, receding gums and - in the most serious of cases - severe jaw pain and facial disfigurement.
In order to break out of this bad habit, there are a number of changes you can make in your diet and lifestyle to help ease the symptoms. Try and put a stop to bruxism now with the following tips.
Drink chamomile tea
As well as fighting tension and anxiety in the body, chamomile contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient called nervine. Appropriately named, perhaps, as this relaxes the jaw muscles and decreases nerve tension to help reduce spasms. The majority of teeth grinding usually occurs at night, so try swapping your night time mug of cocoa with a well-brewed cup of stress-busting chamomile tea.
Change your pillow
Did you know that bruxism symptoms can have a lot to do with the way you sleep? The height of your pillow may be putting a great deal of strain on your neck and jaw muscles at night, causing your jaw to clench unnaturally. Your teeth's natural 'resting position' is when they are slightly apart with your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, and this position should also be true during sleep.
To make sure your teeth are resting and not clenching, try sleeping on a contoured pillow that supports your face and neck and place a regular pillow between your arms. Sleeping in this position will put considerably less strain on your jaw and neck muscles and will also prevent you from rolling onto your face.
Get a stress ball
A seemingly simple suggestion, but one that can work wonders if you keep it up regularly. Making a habit of squeezing a stress ball throughout the day will train your brain to focus on a different form of releasing your anxiety. The repetitive and satisfying feeling of your hand manipulating the ball almost mimics the repetitive way your teeth clench together in response to stress. Take a stress ball with you to work and on the go and keep one by your bed to prevent teeth grinding urges just before you sleep.
Cut down on sugar
Sweet treats may be tempting from time to time, but they can increase your chances of teeth grinding and clenching. If you have a diet high in sugary foods, coupled with a stressful job or lifestyle, this can contribute to disrupted sleep and make it more likely that night time teeth grinding occurs.
To lessen the chances of teeth grinding during sleep, the best thing you can do is swap sugary snacks for fruit and veg - particularly the crunchy kinds. Foods like apples, celery and carrot sticks are especially crunchy which can help to calm an overactive mouth and tensed jaw. Munch on a portion or two of these before bed to help ease your urge to clench your teeth at night or when feeling stressed throughout the day.
Additionally, if you are lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, this could also be contributing to your bruxism. Research has shown that magnesium deficiency contributes to teeth grinding, so ensure that you are getting the supplements you need in your diet to help prevent your symptoms.
Hopefully, the above tips can help to ease your bruxism. One other effective way to counteract teeth grinding, however, is to visit a dental clinic regularly to ensure that your symptoms are not worsening. Your dentist will be able to detect physical signs in your mouth and jaw that you may not have realised, so don't skip your regular dental check up if you want to make sense of your bruxism and help fight it for good.
As a mum, I know how essential sport can be to children's development. Through team sports like soccer, kids learn persistence, sportsmanship and the value of supporting their team members. However, all that learning carries some risk as well, and a stray elbow or a ball to the face can result in oral injuries. I have been the mum rushing to the emergency room with a precious permanent tooth sitting in a cup of milk. Admittedly, at the time, I wasn't even sure if the cup of milk was the right solution. As a parent, you will face those situations, and I'm here to make sure you know what to do when they pop up. With this blog, let's explore children's dentistry and sports injuries together... I want you to have the info you need to stay cool, calm and collected, regardless of how many teeth are on the pitch.