Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a condition that affects many adults. In fact, some sources estimate that as many as one in three adults are seeking ways to help them stop grinding their teeth. If left untreated, bruxism can cause tooth damage, headaches and, eventually, painful disorders of your jaw’s temporomandibular joint, or TMJ.
Although there are several tips you can try to help alleviate the burden of bruxism, including wearing an oral night guard or applying a warm compress to your jaw area, these only relieve the symptoms caused by bruxism and do not necessarily teach you how to stop grinding your teeth. The better solution is to retrain your tongue and jaw muscles, so they stay relaxed over the long run. West Orange TMJ dentist Dr. Ivan F. Stein shares his favorite exercises to help curb bruxism for the long haul.
Progressive Muscular Relaxation
Practicing progressive muscular relaxation (PRM) techniques can help you manage anxiety, decrease stress and relieve the consequent muscle tension that may be causing your bruxism. When you experience stress, your muscles — including your jaw muscles — tense up, often leading to teeth grinding. To practice PRM, find a quiet location with low lighting, tense up each muscle in your body, one at a time, and then relax it. Tense and relax each muscle three times before moving on to the next one. Start from your toes and work your way up to your facial muscles (or vice versa).
Chin tucks can help strengthen your jaw and may help correct TMJ issues. To perform chin tucks, tuck your head down, bringing your chin close to your chest. While keeping your top and bottom teeth apart, push your chin back so your head returns to its normal position. Repeat this motion 15 times, three times a day.
Retrain Yourself to Maintain a Neutral Tongue and Jaw Position
To start, close your lips but open your jaw slightly so it is in a relaxed position. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, holding this tongue position for several minutes while you take slow, deep breaths. Do this several times a day. The objective is to retrain your tongue and jaw to remain in this neutral position automatically.
Relaxing your tongue may also help you maintain a neutral tongue and jaw position throughout the day. To do this exercise, move your tongue as far back in your mouth as possible. Leave your tongue in this position while slowly opening the mouth as much as possible. Then close your mouth. Repeat this 20 times, as often as needed throughout the day.
Cardiovascular and Strength-Training Exercise
In addition to the specific oral exercises mentioned above, make sure you incorporate regular cardio and strength-training exercises into your daily life. Both types of exercise help alleviate stress and help you sleep better, which may in turn help curb your bruxism.
If you are still experiencing bruxism or TMJ disorder caused by your bruxism, it may be time to seek medical advice.
To arrange a complimentary consultation with a TMJ specialist, please contact Headache and TMJ Center of New Jersey by calling (855) 865-3627.