Bruxism is a behavior that involves clenching, gnashing or grinding of teeth, and many people do it without knowing it. Other people also do it when sleeping, and this is known as sleep bruxism. About one in every three people suffer from bruxism though there's still disagreement on the actual figures of bruxers. Below we'll learn about bruxism exercises.
This behavior, when not controlled, can lead to wear and tear, damage to the enamel, breaks in the teeth, misaligned bite, temporomandibular joint disorder, and even tooth loss in some cases. Other effects include jaw pain, cheek damage, and earaches.
There is no medical treatment for this condition, so doctors have developed bruxism exercises to help people with this behavior.
Bruxism is attributed to a number of physical and mental causes, but the reason why it occurs is still unclear. Some people who have never experienced this behavior can get it while aged 40. Some children can have sleep bruxism but outgrow it as they get older.
Scientists say some people grind their teeth as a way of taming tension and anxiety. Some studies have shown that stress and anxiety usually cause up to 70 per cent of cases of bruxism.
It's also known that bruxism never occurs alone. People with sleeping disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, also suffer from sleep breathing pauses and snoring. Of all the sleeping problems, obstructive sleep apnea seems to be the high-risk factor for tooth grinding.
Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, using caffeine, young age, higher educational status and heavy use of alcohol are also viewed as co-factors of bruxism.
People with hyperactive personality can also get teeth grinding. This is because such people experience high levels of stress. Also, they have excess nervous energy that is released through teeth clenching and grinding.
Doctors usually recommend physical techniques to help in correcting bruxism since there's no medication for it. Drugs, such as muscle relaxants, are usually given to patients, but they seem to have a temporary effect.
Exercises are designed to correct both the cause and the effects of this behavior. Awareness exercises are usually in helping victims identify the trigger for teeth grinding. This can be boredom, anger or stress.
If you have daytime bruxism, tongue exercises can help to impair clenching when you're not eating or speaking. This can be done by placing the tip of the tongue at the top of the mouth just near the front teeth. This will help to prevent the clenching of jaws.
Learn to keep your teeth apart even when your mouth is closed. Do this consistently and your muscles with start relaxing. You can use dental guards to assist with this exercise. When you feel the muscles are contracted or cramped, try yawning several times to stretch them.
For those feeling pain in the jaws, a jaw massage can give you the much-needed relief. Simply, use your fingertips to press the muscles of the jaw gently while making small circles. Avoid the temptation of clenching the teeth during the massage. You can try doing this exercise in the shower with warm water.
In some cases, doctors recommend the use of guards, which are usually worn at night to prevent teeth grinding. Keep in mind these options are different from the mouth guards used in sports. Guards are ideal for people who grind teeth unknowingly at night, so the guards take all the brunt.
Your dentist usually makes a custom guard according to the impressions of your teeth. So, you're the only one who can use the guard as they will not fit anyone else. Or, you can buy non-custom options, though they may or may not fit well. Still, you can wear guards even if you don't suffer from bruxism.
It's important for patients to understand that bruxism has no cure and there's still not enough information about it. Still, this behavior can be managed and controlled through bruxism exercises, custom night guards, and employing pain management tactics.
If exercises are not working for you, talk to a dentist to find out how your situation can be helped. In some cases, you may need to visit an orthodontist to align your teeth properly.