According to one study, one in ten of us clenches our jaws at night. Bruxism is a sleep-related movement disorder that causes you to grind, gnash, or clench your teeth, and you might not even know you’re doing it.
However, if you’re suffering from dull headaches, a sore jaw, sensitive teeth, chipped or cracked teeth, loose teeth, or indentations on your tongue, the chances are that you’re a clencher. The good news is that there are several ways to beat the habit – we’ve rounded up some strategies to help you on your journey…
Work out every day
One of the best ways to reduce or eliminate clenching your teeth when you sleep is to make sure you’re tired before you go to bed. Exercising regularly not only improves your physical and mental wellbeing, but it makes your body more tired, allowing you to get a good night’s sleep, every night. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime and when you can, skip the gym and work out outdoors. We know that there are a lot of positive associations between fresh air and relaxation. It can raise or lower your body temperature, which makes your body work harder to regulate itself. This burns calories and uses energy, much in the same way that exercise does, and can tire you out throughout the day. A stroll along the beach is ideal!
Say goodbye to caffeine
There’s nothing wrong with the odd Diet Coke or a cappuccino to start the day, but drinking too much caffeine can cause you to tense up and clench your teeth whilst you sleep. We recommend cutting out the caffeine at least four hours before you go to bed so that your jaw can relax; if you simply cannot kick the habit, consider decaffeinated versions of your favourite drinks. Oh, and watch out for caffeine in food – chocolate and supplements both contain it, so keep a food diary and review your choices on a website like My Fitness Pal.
Put the gum down
Another strategy for eliminating clenching and grinding is to stop chewing on things such as pencils or objects throughout the day. According to Healthline, chewing gum or another substance to excess may result in tightness in the lower jaw (mandible), which makes you more likely to clench and grind in your sleep. If you’re looking for an alternative to keep your mouth fresh through the day, turn to organic sugar-free mints which you can suck, and drink more water to refresh your breath. Dehydration leads to bad breath, so sip away on a bottle of water throughout the day. What’s more, insufficient fluids throughout the day may worsen bruxism, so keeping your fluids up could reduce the chances of clenching and grinding, too.
Consider the Oralift device
The Oralfit anti-ageing device is a mouthguard, designed to be worn for short periods, and works on a similar principle in that it uses the body’s natural ability to adapt, rejuvenating the face without surgery, pain, injections, or chemicals. Although Oralift cannot stop you from clenching, it can help you set up another trigger that will counteract the trigger that starts your parafunctioning. The touch test, a key part of the Oralift treatment, reinforces the fact that tooth contact isn’t necessary for normal function, as our teeth don’t meet when we chew.
Chewing consists of breaking up the food bolus into small pieces and mixing it with saliva which has enzymes to digest the food. When we chew, there is a mechanism that stops the teeth from touching and jaws separate before tooth contact is made. Many think swallowing involves tooth contact, and though some people do make tooth contact when swallowing, it’s not necessary. A relaxed swallow involves keeping the tip of the tongue behind or in front of the upper front teeth, lips together and teeth slightly apart. Part of stopping clenching and grinding is learning how to swallow in this relaxed manner – and that’s where we can help.
Firstly, you should become aware of when you clench during the day. Once you have found out this, then put a sticky yellow label near the place where you clench, and determine where it is – for example, when you are driving or working on the computer or collecting children from school. Once you have stopped clenching in the daytime and your teeth do not touch in the daytime, how do you stop nighttime clenching? How do you know if you clench at night? If you wake up with a tight jaw or aching facial muscles, you have probably been clenching during the night. Another way to find out is to observe your freeway space before you go to sleep and when you just wake up. If your freeway space is smaller in the morning, you probably have been clenching, offering “proof” of your habit.
Once you become aware of your clenching, some people wake up in the night when they are clenching. This is a way of our body telling us that we are doing something wrong and we should stop. Once you know that you clench at night time, you can use Oralift to help you stop this habit. Just before you go to sleep, wear Oralift for 5-10 minutes. This will increase your freeway space and during the night when the trigger to start your clenching becomes active. Then, your jaw will have to move from a different position than normal to start your clenching. This will now allow the other trigger that you have set up telling you that tooth contact is not necessary for normal function to come into play and you will probably wake up. Eventually, your body will learn not to clench during the night. Granted, this is not a “quick fix”, but instead offers a strategic, science-backed approach that does work.
Try to relax
Finally, recognise that clenching is usually caused by stress, and consider ways that you can relax and unwind before bedtime. We recommend drinking some herbal tea and meditating, where you focus on your breathing and slow your mind. This can create a sense of calm that can help you relax, releasing tension that could be the cause of bruxism. On the other hand, focused relaxation can be performed wherever you feel your face or jaw tensing, allowing you to move into a more relaxed state. Verywell mind has put together some strategies to help you.
Although there’s no overnight solution to clenching your jaws, the strategies we have offered above should make a significant difference over time. Click here to learn more about Oralift and check back to our website soon for more information on our innovative product.