As a chronic victim of bruxism, you've awoken nearly every morning with jaw pain and sore gums. Additionally, your teeth have gradually ground down over the past several years. Although it's nearly impossible to eliminate your bruxism, you can minimize the damage your teeth sustain from nightly teeth grinding by using these methods:
Wear An Occlusal Splint
Occlusal splints, also known as mouthpieces or night guards, will prevent your teeth from making contact with each other even while you're tightly clenching your jaw. Occlusal splints are made from a thick, thermo-plastic compound that will absorb and negate the shock your teeth experience while you grind your teeth each night.
You can purchase an occlusal splint from your local pharmacy without a prescription or dentist recommendation—although it's certainly best to consult your dentist prior to using a splint.
You will need to fit your occlusal splint to match the alignment and shape of your teeth. To fit your splint, submerge the splint in boiling water for anywhere between 30 seconds to five minutes (depending on the thickness of your splint). Remove the splint from the water with tongs or a utensil and rinse the boiling water from your guard. Place the guard over your teeth and bite down for about a minute. As you bite, the softened plastic will mold to perfectly mimic the shape of your teeth.
Splints are typically designed to only mold to the shape of one row of your teeth. For this reason, the splint you purchase may have a guard that prevents the opposite row of teeth from imprinting on the split. In such a case, make sure the row of teeth that are designed to imprint on the splint are buried deep within the plastic compound. Otherwise, your splint can easily fall out of your mouth while you sleep.
If your teeth don't make a deep imprint on your splint, then place your splint back into boiling water to restart the fitting process. Let the splint remain in the boiling water for a couple extra minutes. After rinsing the boiling water from your splint, place it back into your mouth and firmly bite into the splint. Once you relax your jaw, use your thumbs to maintain pressure on the splint and press the sides of the splint against your gums.
Once your guard has been properly shaped, submerge it in cold water for several minutes to finish the fitting process. After every use, remember to wash your guard with cold water and either toothpaste or mouthwash to maintain its shape and cleanliness.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Several studies have found direct correlations between bruxism and stress levels. If you have only recently begun suffering from bruxism, or if your bruxism activity has recently spiked, then chances are that it's induced by a new stress factor in your lifestyle. A new, high-pressure job, personal issues with your significant other or a family member, or even poor nutrition can bring on cases of stress-induced bruxism.
Your best way to alleviate stress-induced bruxism is to simply relax. However, this is much easier said than done.
Instead of attempting to reduce your stress levels through sheer willpower, consider taking up a stress-relieving nighttime routine. A short session of sound or music therapy will help you to relax your mind and reduce your stress levels prior to settling into bed. Additionally, avoiding stimulants, such as tea, coffee, or your favorite suspenseful television show before bed will allow your mind to naturally unwind before you hit the sack.
By equipping an occlusal splint and reducing your stress levels, you can significantly reduce (or even completely prevent) the damage caused by your bruxism. To seek alternative methods of bruxism relief, schedule an appointment with a dentist, like Kevin J Owoc, to discuss your case of bruxism.