The best bruxism treatment, in terms of relieving pain, is one that combines the use of a dental appliance along with relaxation techniques. In a study by Turk et al,1 the researchers found “the combined treatment approach was more effective than either of the single treatments alone, particularly in pain reduction, at the 6-month follow-up.” To get started now and stop teeth grinding, consider the following options:
1. Bruxism Mouth Guard
Grinding guards can protect your teeth but do not necessarily stop you from clenching or grinding your teeth. As per the study quoted above, mouth guards are most effective if used in conjunction with relaxation techniques.
2. Relief pain with ice or a warm cloth
To relief pain and swelling, use ice. As per standard first aid, ice three times a day for 10-15 minutes. A word of caution, don’t apply ice directly to your skin. It’s best to wrap an ice pack with a towel or cloth first.
For some a warm cloth may relax and soothe chronically sore jaw muscles.
3. Relaxation Exercises
Just consciously relaxing the muscles of the jaw can feel so good. Since the neck and shoulder muscles can also play a role in tight jaw muscles, stretching these muscles can also be helpful. Start with a few simple shoulder shrugs and shoulder rolls.
4. Learn to Handle Stress
In a study by Giracki et al2, those who didn’t take action to address the stress in their life, ground their teeth more than those who did take action. Whether it’s money, a relationship, health or work that is causing you strain, what support can you get to deal with it? When you realize there are solutions, you’ll feel more in control – which can decrease stress.
5. Determine What Triggers Your Symptoms
Become aware of what makes your symptoms worse and what makes them better? Notice if any particular food or beverage causes you to grind more. How does food consistency affect your grinding? What about your posture at home and at work? Do you grind more or less when you incorporate regular exercise into your lifestyle?
You can massage tight facial and jaw muscles. Be gentle as just touching them can be painful! Since neck and shoulder muscles can also play a part, give them a rub as well. Sometimes just finding the sore or tight point in the muscle, pressing down with one or two fingers, and moving your fingers back and forth on the knot or sore point can loosen it a bit.
7. Avoid Hard Candy and Chewing Gum
Why stress your jaw joint and facial muscles if you don’t have to? Higher pressures need to be exerted in order to bite hard candy or nuts. By chewing gum, you’re making already tired muscles work more.
If any of the above teeth grinding treatments cause your symptoms to worsen, then common sense would say it’s not the right treatment option for you.
1. Turk et al. Effects of intraoral appliance and biofeedback/stress management alone and in combination in treating pain and depression in patients with temporomandibular disorders.
2. Giraki et al. Correlation between stress, stress-coping and current sleep bruxism
The Truth About TMJ ebook package by Dr Spainhower, a TMJ dentist, teaches bruxism and TMJ sufferers what they need to know to determine the source of their problem and relief their pain and symptoms all in the comfort of their home.