Clenching and grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism, can create enough wear and tear to damage your teeth over time. It's a common problem, and most people with bruxism don't even know they have it. This is particularly true for those who do most of their grinding at night. The good news is that treatment is available to reduce grinding and its unpleasant side effects. One option is to try bruxism exercises that help you stop grinding and clenching your teeth and keep mouth pain at bay.
Bruxism Exercises To Reduce Teeth Grinding
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
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.
Do Bruxism Exercises Really Work?
Researchers are still investigating the effectiveness of a physical therapy approach to treating bruxism. But so far, it seems as though bruxism exercises can help alleviate some of the symptoms. However, severe malocclusion issues or chronic TMD require other types of treatment from a specialist. If bruxism exercises are not helpful, talk to your dentist. You may need orthodontic treatment to restore your teeth to their proper alignment.
Bruxism can cause tense, sore muscles, headaches, and stiffness. But with the help of exercises, you might be able to find some relief. Talk to your dentist about which bruxism exercises would be best for you to eliminate this habit and get back to enjoying a pain-free smile.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.