See an orthodontist to help you stop grinding your teeth

If you know or suspect that you’re grinding your teeth, it’s important to address the problem. Learn how to stop this damaging habit.

Remember the Saturday morning cartoons you watched as a child? Occasionally you’d see a character, usually the bad guy, grinding his teeth in frustration because the hero had foiled him once again. It was funny in the cartoon, but if you grind or clench your teeth in real life, it isn’t funny at all. If you make a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, you can cause yourself serious dental problems. You can fracture your teeth by grinding and clenching them, and if you keep on doing it, you may actually begin to lose them. Tooth grinding, also called bruxism, may occur during the day, or at night after you go to sleep. It’s sometimes the result of stress and anxiety, but it’s often the result of a “bad bite” or crooked teeth. If your bruxism is the result of a dental problem, a skilled orthodontist can correct the issues that cause you to grind your teeth.


Do

Cartoon with check mark

  • see an orthodontist
  • follow the instructions your orthodontist gives you
  • maintain diligent daily oral hygiene
  • maintain your checkups with your orthodontist
  • find ways to reduce stress daily, such as exercise and meditation
Don't

Cartoon with x mark

  • worry if braces are your recommended treatment
  • fail to comply with your orthodontist’s treatment regimen
  • tank up on caffeine during your treatment
  • hesitate to ask your orthodontist about any concerns you may have
  • dwell

Dr. Adam Schulhof, DMD‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do see an orthodontist

A good orthodontist can correct even complex or multiple malocclusions. He or she can also give you expert advice about your treatment options. Consult with an orthodontist and let him or her know about your teeth-grinding problem. Also, try to notice when you grind your teeth most often so that your can tell your orthodontist and he can recommend a personalized treatment plan.

Do follow the instructions your orthodontist gives you

These instructions might include wearing a retainer or getting braces, if your problem is the result of crooked teeth and/or a bad bite. If your orthodontist feels as if you grinding your teeth is the result of anxiety or stress, they may ask you to see a therapist or qualified mental health professional. Whatever they recommend, you should follow the advice if you want to stop.

Do maintain diligent daily oral hygiene

Brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially if you will be wearing braces. Also, floss at least once a day to remove any food stuck in between your teeth. It is also recommended that you use mouthwash once a day as well to help remove bacteria from your tongue and mouth.

Do maintain your checkups with your orthodontist

Inform your orthodontist of any changes or concerns during treatment. He or she can help recommend other courses of treatment if it isn’t working. Plus, by going to the orthodontist for your regular checkups, he or she can ensure that you have a straight and beautiful smile, whether you are grinding your teeth or not.

Do find ways to reduce stress daily, such as exercise and meditation

If you grind your teeth during the night, it may help to turn off the TV and the computer an hour before retiring to bed. You might also want to establish a habit of listening to relaxing music before bed. Meditation and yoga can also help reduce stress and anxiety, and if this is the cause of your teeth grinding, it will greatly reduce the occurrence.


Dr. Adam Schulhof, DMD‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not worry if braces are your recommended treatment

You don’t need to sport visible metal braces. Some newer types bond to the back of teeth and are completely invisible! Ask your orthodontist about the different types of braces available to you to fix your bite and alignment.

Do not fail to comply with your orthodontist’s treatment regimen

The more compliant you are to their treatment regimen, the faster you'll solve your problems. Just like anything in life, if you don’t follow the instructions, you won’t ever be able to get better. However, if you are having a hard time complying to your orthodontist’s treatment plan, you should speak with him about it so that he can either recommend ways to help you follow the instructions more closely, or get you on a different treatment plan.

Do not tank up on caffeine during your treatment

Avoid things that will make you jittery, such as coffee, tea or chocolate. Substances that contain caffeine or a lot of sugar can exacerbate your anxiety and stress, causing you to grind your teeth even more.

Do not hesitate to ask your orthodontist about any concerns you may have

Take advantage of the time you spend with your doctor and be prepared with questions for your next visit. Ask about price, treatment options, at-home options, etc. so that you are armed with the knowledge you need to stop grinding your teeth.

Do not dwell

Don’t watch programs or dwell on issues that might make you anxious, worried, or angry, especially late at night. Of course life isn't always a picnic, but exercise, fresh air, and spending time with friends should help you to decompress a little. And if you still can’t find ways of de-stressing, talk to a therapist or mental health professional.


Summary

If you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw, if you’ve heard from your spouse that you grind your teeth during the night, or if you notice that your teeth are sensitive to cold or hot foods, you might be in the habit of bruxism. If you have these symptoms, it’s important to make an appointment with an orthodontist, who can tell you if you’re grinding your teeth and if the habit is due to a bad bite and/or crooked teeth. If you suspect that you have this destructive habit, see an orthodontist today to keep it from doing damage to your beautiful smile!

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