Nocturnal teeth grinding is one of those annoying and destructive habits that can cause serious dental problems if left unchecked. Tooth enamel can be lost and teeth can become misaligned by the grinding action, and sleeping partners can have their sleep disturbed by the relentless noise of gnashing teeth. Because it only occurs during sleep, many teeth grinders may feel their teeth getting more sensitive or their jaw having a slight ache in the morning, but are unaware of the problem unless someone tells them what is happening.
Like so many health issues, life stresses are the main triggers for teeth grinding. However, there are several simple ways to reduce or even eliminate teeth grinding and bring relief to sufferers and their loved ones by improving the quality of the grinder’s sleep.
Use Mouth Guards
If you have a teeth- grinding habit, the first thing to do is prevent any further damage by using a mouth guard at night. Soft sports mouth guards can be bought for a few dollars from your local pharmacy and will help to eliminate further wear and tear. They are not uncomfortable to use and can be easily cleaned and rinsed every morning. Having this simple safeguard in place will allow you to work on longer- term solutions.
Have A Quality Sleep
One of the best ways to reduce the incidence and effects of teeth grinding is to make sure you get seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. Of course, this is easier said than done, as the average person spends a good proportion of their life worrying about bills, kids, work conflicts, and what they have just seen on the nightly TV news. Worry translates into restlessness, anxiety, interrupted sleep patterns, increased muscle tension, and ultimately, sleep disorders such as teeth grinding.
Quality sleep requires maintaining a natural pattern of the two fundamental sleep patterns. The first of these is rapid eye movement ( REM) sleep, which is often associated with dreaming. The second is non-REM sleep.
Avoid Tension Before Going To Bed
In order to maintain that natural pattern, it is best to avoid alcohol, coffee, heavy foods, and disturbing TV programs in the two to three hours before you go to bed. While these may all be enjoyable in their own way, it is important to understand that they can have an unsettling effect which can lead to tension and teeth grinding.
If you are taking any form of medication, have a chat to your doctor to see if its active ingredients may be interrupting your sleep patterns. If they are, there may be a simple alternative medication that can help you rest better at night.
One way to release tension is to do light exercise after you get home from work. This could be a brisk 20- minute walk with the dog, a session on the treadmill or stationary bike, or some yoga stretches. If this all sounds too much, then change the TV channel and watch a comedy program rather than something that is full of death and disaster. A good belly laugh is a great stress reliever. A few minutes of deep breathing exercises can also help to break the pattern of intense mental activity that dominates most people’s lives.
Another way to improve the quality of your sleep is to listen to some relaxing music through earplugs as you drift off into a dream world. There are some excellent recordings available online that also include subliminal messages aimed at making you more relaxed in general, not just at night.
The key to stopping teeth grinding is to become more relaxed by avoiding and dissipating the sources of tension which dominate modern life. By taking some simple steps in this direction, you will also gain positive health benefits in other areas of your body and experience a happier, more contented life.