What Are Bruxism Exercises?
Ideally, bruxism exercises address both the causes and the effects of grinding your teeth. Tension in the jaw is one of the causes of bruxism, and some people can develop jaw tension as a result of grinding, too. Either way, jaw tension is uncomfortable and can lead to headaches, earaches, or aches in the jaw joint. Another cause of bruxism is stress. Reducing stress in your life is overall very good for your health, so practices like relaxation exercises can be beneficial for maintaining normal blood pressure, helping you sleep better, and reducing overall wear and tear on your whole body, including your teeth.
Here are some bruxism exercises you can try to relieve tension and reduce stress.
- Awareness exercises. Awareness exercises not only help you determine triggers – such as stress, anger, or boredom – but they can also help prevent you from grinding. If you focus on your tongue and teeth' position, you can avoid a damaging clenching session. Consciously place your tongue against the backs of your top teeth, which makes it impossible for you to grind your teeth. As you become aware of your triggers, you can use this technique to keep those triggers from affecting you.
- Stretching exercises. Stretching exercises can help normalize the jaw muscles and joints and other muscles along the side of the head. Try gently stretching your jaw open and closed when you feel tension creep up.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy is effective because your therapist can tailor a treatment plan specifically for you.
- Massages. Massages can also be helpful and should include not only the jaw but also the neck and shoulders. Your physical therapist or massage therapist might find knots in the muscles that contribute to your chronic tension.
- Meditation. Meditation usually involves slowing down and focusing on one thing, often your breath. Slowing your mind creates a sense of calm that can help you relax and release any tension that could be triggering your bruxism.
- Focused relaxation. Any time you feel your face or jaw tensing up, consciously ease into a more relaxed position. If you're not aware when you're tensing your jaw, clench the muscles deliberately, and then relax slowly to get used to how you feel when these areas are in a more neutral position.
Consult with your dentist to determine which of these approaches might be most effective for your individual situation.