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Signs that you might be clenching your teeth.

Are you stressed? Check your mouth because there’s a good chance your taking that stress out on

your poor unsuspected teeth.


Teeth grinding, or Bruxism as it's officially known, is one of those conditions that you could be

suffering from without any knowledge of. While it’s certainly possible to clench your teeth during

the day, most people are able to pick that up and stop that habit without seeking medical

intervention. However, night time clenching is actually quite difficult to diagnose and most patients

struggle to realise they’re even doing it.


There are three common ways you can tell that you’re clenching your teeth at night, they are:

1. Your partner will hear and (hopefully) tell you

2. You wake up with a stiffer jaw and sorer teeth than normal

3. Your dentist starts pulling teeth out

Hopefully most patients won’t make it to step 3 but unfortunately, some don’t find out until it is too

late. There is however a few things you can do to reduce your chances of eventually losing your

teeth to that pesky clenching habit.


Evidence shows that you your levels of arousal (no not that kind) determine the likelihood of teeth

clenching at night. AKA the less active the jaw is during the day, the less active it will be at night

after you have fallen asleep. What I mean by that is, reduce your clenching during the day and you can reduce your clenching during the night.


By placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth and relaxing your mouth and lips closed (what

we call the neutral jaw position), you reduce your chances of subconsciously clenching. By all

means you can still clench with your mouth in that position, but you’re less likely to do it without

realising!


Secondly, if you feel like your mouth is very tight first thing in the morning, start massaging your

cheeks during the day. The muscle which sits over your back teeth (called the Masseters) are

responsible for closing and therefore, responsible for clenching your teeth.

By clenching, you’re causing that muscle to work a lot harder than normal and as such, it will likely

be tight. Counteract that by massaging the muscle one side at a time, with reasonable (5/10) depth in a circular motion for 10 seconds at a time. Do this throughout the day to reduce the arousal of that muscle.


Lastly, if neither of these techniques work and you’re still clenching at night, it might be time to

book in with your dentist about a night time mouth guard (Occlusal Splint). At The Headache, Neck

& Jaw Clinic, it is always our priority to explore all other options before referring onwards for more

permanent medical alternatives as the splint can be quite expensive (usually $500).

But that might be the best $500 you have ever spent if it preserves your teeth for years to come. One$500 splint can last you up to 5 years. One root canal can cost upwards of $1000! Protect your teeth people, you only get one set (no I’m not counting your baby teeth).




Author: Benjamin Sewell

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Physiotherapy for patients with Head, Neck & Jaw pain

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