Friday, July 31, 2009

Relief for Teeth-Grinding

I will spare you the pain of reading yet another blog post summarizing the latest breathing article that I read. And God knows, there are plenty of those to choose from every week. You'd think by the number of articles that have been written recently on breathing that it was the "hot" new thing to do or something, like those "lose weight by obeying the one simple rule" ads that have been popping up in our e-mail account ad sidebars every day for the last month.

Today I will mention an article on the link between stress and teeth-grinding, or bruxism. There is, of course, a correlation, and the article mentions various ways to alleviate the pressure on your teeth through the use of mouth guards and similar apparati, but, according to Dr. Nancy Rosen, "because stress causes most of all grinding, the only real way to cure it is to reduce the stress in your life". Rosen suggests exercise and meditation, and forms of therapy that are centered around relaxation (please keep your local humble hypnotist in mind). Dr. Harold Menschel of the TMJ and Facial Pain institute "also recommends relaxation therapy and even hypnosis". Even hypnosis? Does anyone else, non-hypnotists included, sense a little bit of condescension in that? Even hypnosis indeed.

Anyway, as a hypnotist myself (or even a hypnotist, I should say), one method that I recommend is to spend more time being aware of the tension and tightness in your jaw area that leads to teeth-grinding or clenching, and to deliberately relax those areas regularly. This can be done by visualizing or directing relaxation to the area during meditation or deep breathing, or by reciting an affirmation or self-suggestion like, "My jaws are loose and relaxed, and my teeth are separated" while in a state of self-hypnosis. Do this before bed, so you can go to sleep without carrying any tension in your jaws that would cause nightly teeth-grinding. And also do it first thing in the morning, and at various times in the day when you would feel stress, whether it's while sitting in traffic, or at your desk at work, or dinner with your mother-in-law. The idea behind this is to pinpoint the stressful moments of your life and deliberately replace the tension with relaxation.

One article that I'd like to read but haven't come across yet is one that explains why so many people do carry stress in their jaws as opposed to other parts of the body. I mean, does anyone out there clench their fists as a stress response? Or tighten their kneecaps? Not so much, right?

12 comments:

  1. Hi. I've been listening to your podcasts on ITunes. They're great. The imagery is wonderful. Each session leaves me feeling so much more relaxed and peaceful, and it's such a nice break from a hectic home, family, school, and career life! I loved the Secret Garden episode. I was almost to that point where I had forgotten that part of being young is when everything is magical and safe. That podcast brought all of that back.
    Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into these podcasts. They really are a wonderful new resource I have in my life.

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  2. Hi! My daughter grinds her teeth at night and I don't know what to do? There are times when it would be loud enough to wake me up. Are there daytime exercises that she can perform to avoid this? She is just 4 years old.

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  3. I think meditation is a great way to relieve everyday stress and thus reduce/eliminate teeth grinding. There is definitely a correlation between stress and teeth grinding. I used to meditate for 10 minutes before going to sleep. Not a long time (as I couldn't sit quietly for more than that lol) but I would say it helped somewhat.

    I still meditate these days to clear my mind. I think it is good practice even if it is just 10 minutes.

    On another note for teeth grinding, mental stress is definitely a causing factor but physical stress is one too. For example if there is an underlying problem such as a health concern caused by diet problems etc, teeth grinding could occur too.

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  4. Ella, thanks for your question. It's important to first figure out why your daughter is grinding her teeth. Is it out of physical stress or emotional stress, or has the habit developed in some other way? If it's possible to isolate the underlying cause, then you should remove that cause and see if the grinding issue goes away. A child at age 4 is likely too young for focused exercises like meditation or hypnosis that I'd normally suggest for adults, but fortunately, removing the underlying cause is a solution that works for ANY age. If asking your daughter what the cause is doesn't yield any answers, look around the household for potential sources of stress (family members, pets, noises, etc.). And then if all else fails, consult her doctor or dentist for options such as a mouth guard.

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  5. If I may just add my two cents for Ella since I've done so much research on the subject before. Usually for children it is often because of an abnormal bite usually caused by improper teeth growth.

    Ella, you can check to see if this is the case by looking at whether your daughter's teeth are mis-aligned when she bites down (some teeth significantly higher than the others etc). Fortunately, children usually grow out of teeth grinding once their "milk" teeth are replaced. But there is a risk of it becoming a habit. I'd second Paul's suggestion to see a dentist as a mouth guard seems sensible given the delicate teeth at her age.

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  6. My son ground his teeth during sleep when he was younger (just around the time he started school) we thought we may have to get him a bite guard but he grew out of it. I think it had to do with the stress of starting to go to school, but its hard to say.

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  7. Keeping a close bonding with the children will also help them to lose the stress they feel. Improper position of the teeth can also be a reason so as it is better to consult the dentist right away.

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  8. Dr. Harold Menschel of the TMJ and Facial Pain institute "also recommends relaxation therapy and even hypnosis".

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  9. Teeth grinding is a serious problem. It may cause permanent damage to teeth, gums and jaws. It is also painful to the one who grind their teeth. Using teeth grinding guard are also useful but addressing the underlying cause like stress is much better way to stop teeth grinding night.

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  10. I totally agree that stress can cause teeth grinding. And usually the types of stress that could lead to such are frustration, lack of sleep, and over fatigue.

    On the other hand, if you are stress free and still you have that case where you are doing teeth grinding then you need to consult a dentist like in Implant Dentist Philadelphia. Surely we will do our best to answer your questions and to meet your needs.

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  11. I have a 5 year old son who loudly grind his teeth at night and i dont know what would be the best remedy to it. Help.

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  12. But there is a risk of it becoming a habit. I'd second Paul's suggestion to see a dentist as a mouth guard seems sensible given the delicate teeth at her age.

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