Grinding your teeth while sleeping is a habit related to stress or anxiety that can eventually cause the wearing down of your teeth. You probably didn’t know you grind your teeth at night until someone told you. Express.co.uk chatted to sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan to find out how to stop grinding your teeth.
Why do I grind my teeth?
As many as one in 10 of us grind our teeth, and most of the time it is caused by stress and repressed feelings rather than genetics.
Dr Ramlakhan explained: “Teeth grinders are usually perfectionistic high-achievers who tend to have difficulties establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in their work and home life – they simply find it difficult to say ‘no’.
“These types are also not good at asking for help and sharing their anxieties with others, even loved ones.”
Teeth grinding symptoms
Unless someone has told you that you grind your teeth, you probably won’t know that you do it.
However, there are a few telltale signs that can help you to conclude whether you’re guilty up teeth grinding.
Symptoms of teeth grinding include:
- facial pain
- pain and stiffness in the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and surrounding muscles, which can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
- disrupted sleep (for you or your partner)
- worn-down teeth, which can lead to increased sensitivity and even tooth loss
- broken teeth or fillings
Facial pain and headaches often disappear when you stop grinding your teeth – so don’t worry, this isn’t a permanent thing.
Tooth damage usually only happens in severe cases and may need treatment, so it’s important to stop this habit before it’s too late.
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Dr Ramlakhan said: “If you find it difficult to talk about your problems, try keeping a diary or journal.
“Write down your thoughts, fears and anxieties as they arise.
“The best time to do this is before you go to bed or first thing in the morning.”
Try yoga and relaxation techniques
Destressing and learning to forget your problems for a moment will also reduce teeth-grinding tendencies.
Dr Ramlakhan recommends joining a yoga class where there is an emphasis on breathwork (pranayama) and deep relaxing postures.
She added: “The Lion pose is great for releasing tension in the jaw: inhale deeply through your nose, exhale forcefully through your mouth making an AAAAAAH sound while opening your mouth wide.
“Hold this for a few seconds then close your mouth and repeat the exercise and this time stretch your tongue out and down. Try opening your mouth a little wider each time.”