How to Cure Bruxism

Six Methods:Practicing Stress Management at HomeUsing Professional Stress TherapyDoing Jaw Relaxation ExercisesUsing Mouth Guards and Mouth SplintsUsing MedicationPreventing Bruxism

Most people grind or clench their teeth from time to time. A person with bruxism, which is Latin for the grinding of teeth, may consistently clench their teeth together during the day, or clench or grind them at night. Severe bruxism can lead to jaw disorders, headaches, and damaged teeth.[1] There is no definitive way to cure bruxism. But a combination of stress management, stress therapy, and a mouth guard or a mouth splint can lead to a cure.

Method 1
Practicing Stress Management at Home

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    Do breathing exercises before bed. This is an easy way to unwind before you go to sleep and reduce any feelings of stress. You can do this exercise with music on low volume in the background to create a relaxing environment.[2]
    • Sit somewhere comfortable, with no distractions.
    • Inhale for 3 seconds, using your diaphragm.
    • Exhale for 2 or 3 seconds.
    • Inhale again for 3 seconds, and exhale again for 2-3 seconds. Repeat this 10 times.
    • Close your eyes after the 10th repetition. Concentrate on your breathing. Try to create a steady rhythm to your breathing. Sit for five to ten minutes, until you feel calm and relaxed.
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    Consider meditating before bed. Often, bruxism is caused by stress. So one way to cure your bruxism is to do relaxation techniques like meditation before you go to sleep.[3]
    • Lie down on your bed or on the floor. Rest your hands besides your body and close your eyes. Breathe a few times, inhaling and exhaling slowly.
    • With your eyes closed, focus on your body. Start with your arms. Move your concentration down your arms. Then, focus on your elbows. Move down to your palms. Feel how heavy and flat they are.
    • Move your focus to your legs. Think of how long and heavy your legs are. Move down your legs, to your toes. Feel the pressure your heels make on the floor.
    • Move slowly up through your shins and focus on your thighs. Then, move over to your pelvis and up to your stomach. Continue to breath.
    • Move up your stomach to your face. Focus on your chin, your mouth, your cheeks, your ears, and your forehead.
    • Once you complete this exercise, you may fall into a deep sleep.
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    Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Don’t drink coffee or caffeinated tea after dinner. Opt for herbal tea or hot water with lemon. You don’t want to stimulate your body before sleep, as this may lead to poor sleep and teeth grinding.[4]
    • It’s also a good idea to avoid drinking alcohol and smoking in the evening. These can work as stimuli and lead to poor sleep as well as teeth grinding.
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    Talk with your sleep partner before bed. If you have a bedmate, ask them to note any grinding or clicking sounds you make during sleep. This will be good information to pass on to your doctor or dentist and help with treatment for your bruxism.[5]
    • Talking with your sleep partner before bed will also help to relax you and reduce stress. You will likely get a good night’s sleep if you take the time to communicate with your partner before bed.[6]

Method 2
Using Professional Stress Therapy

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    Look into cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A major cause of bruxism is stress and anxiety. CBT is a psychological treatment that will help you manage stress issues by changing the way you think and how you act.[7]
    • A trained therapist will encourage you to talk about how you think about yourself, the world, and other people. The therapist will also get you to talk about how your actions affect your thoughts and feelings.
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    Try hypnosis. Some sufferers of bruxism have found relief through hypnosis. In fact, one study reviewed the long term effects of hypnosis and positive results were still continuing 36 months after treatment.[8]
    • There are hypnosis recordings you can buy online to help cure bruxism.[9]
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    Ask your doctor about biofeedback. Biofeedback is a type of medicine that uses monitoring procedures and equipment to teach you how to control muscle activity in your jaw. Biofeedback uses monitoring equipment like mechanical sensors in a mouth splint. The idea is that once you become more aware of how exactly you grind your teeth, you can learn to control your jaw muscles and get rid of your bruxism.[10][11]
    • Your doctor can give you more information on how biofeedback can be applied to your mouth.

Method 3
Doing Jaw Relaxation Exercises

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    Massage your jaw muscles. Focus on releasing tension in your masseter muscle, which is your primary chewing muscle. It covers the sides of your jaws, just behind your cheeks.[12]
    • To massage your jaw muscles, place your hands on the notches just below your cheekbones. Your fingers should be about one inch in front of your ears.
    • Press this notch firmly and rub it. This is a sturdy spot on your face, so don’t be afraid to apply firm pressure inward and upward.
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    Adjust your tongue to relax your jaw. Do this by positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This will prevent your jaw from clenching or grinding.[13]
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    Do the “fake drunk” exercise at least once a day. This is where you slur your speech as though you are sleepy or drunk.[14]
    • Begin by saying the sentence: “I am so relaxed I can hardly talk”. Then, say it again but this time slur each word. Try this again by mouthing the words: “I can talk”, slurring each word as you mouth the sentence.
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    Do the “long surprise” exercise at least once a day. This is exercise will relax your jaw by spending long periods of time with your jaw wide open.[15]
    • Hold your mouth wide enough to fit two fingers between your teeth.
    • Try to hold your mouth wide in this position for about an hour.
    • If you catch yourself with your teeth together or your mouth closed, slowly stretch your mouth open again.

Method 4
Using Mouth Guards and Mouth Splints

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    Talk to your dentist about getting fit for a mouth guard. Mouth guards will help to even out the pressure across your jaw and create a physical barrier between your upper and lower teeth. They will also protect your teeth from further damage due to grinding or clenching.[16]
    • Mouth guards are usually made out of bendy rubber or plastic. Your dentist can make a mouthguard that fits your mouth. But the downside is it will be expensive.[17]
    • Alternatively, you can go to your local drug store and pick up a cheaper mouthguard. Keep in mind a generic mouth guard it likely won’t fit your mouth as well as a custom guard.
    • Your bedmate will also thank you if you get a mouth guard, as it will reduce grinding noises you make at night while sleeping.[18]
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    Ask your dentist about a mouth splint. Also known as an occlusal splint or a bite plate, a mouth splint is made of harder plastic than a mouth guard. Your dentist can make a splint so it fits exactly over your upper or lower teeth.[19]
    • Mouth splints are no more effective than mouth guards. But they tend to last longer, several years at least, than mouth guards.
    • A mouth splint will help to reduce grinding noises and will protect your teeth from premature wear due to grinding. But they are more expensive than mouth guards.[20]
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    Keep in mind a mouth guard and a mouth split will not cure your bruxism. These mouth pieces will reduce muscle activity in your jaw at night, but they will only control the condition, not cure it.[21]
    • Curing bruxism will likely require a combination of methods, such as stress therapy, medication, and the use of a mouth guard or a mouth splint.

Method 5
Using Medication

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    Ask your doctor about muscle relaxants. Your doctor may give you a prescription for a muscle relaxant to help your jaw muscles loosen up before bed.[22]
    • This is not an effective long term cure for bruxism and will likely only help you sleep better, not stop grinding your teeth.
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    Talk to your doctor about anti-anxiety medication. Some anti-anxiety medications like buspirone and clonazepam can work to stop bruxism. However, some anti-anxiety medications can stop working after a few months of use.[23]
    • Some people can develop bruxism as a side effect of anti-anxiety medication. If this happens, talk to your doctor about changing your medication. Never go off your medication without talking to your doctor.
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    Ask your doctor about non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs can help to reduce any pain or inflammation around your jaw due to grinding. But they will not cure bruxism or prevent bruxism.[24]

Method 6
Preventing Bruxism

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    Schedule monthly check ups with your dentist. This way, your dentist can catch any serious dental issues before they get worse, including bruxism.[25]
    • Teeth grinding can lead to a cracked tooth. If left untreated, the nerve in your tooth could die and a dental abscess could develop. This could then lead to root canal treatment, a serious and expensive procedure that could have been prevented if the cracked tooth was treated earlier.
    • Dental problems like a cracked tooth or missing teeth, can usually be treated with reconstructive dental surgery. In fact, these treatments can sometimes reshape the chewing surface of your teeth and stop teeth grinding.
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    Avoid chewing pens, pencils, and gum. Chewing on non-food items like pens or pencils can lead to tension in your jaw and cause you to grind your teeth.[26]
    • Chewing gum will allow your jaw muscles to get used to clenching, and could lead to teeth grinding, or worsen your bruxism.
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    Avoid consuming food or drink that contains caffeine. This includes sodas, chocolate, coffee, and energy drinks. Not only will they interrupt your sleep pattern, they can make your stress levels worse. This will then lead to teeth grinding, or worsen your bruxism.[27]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Sleep Disorders | Teeth and Mouth