Do you grind your teeth? Do you remember when that was? What was the cause? What would you do if you were unable to talk or eat because you clenched your teeth and jaws too hard?
Have no idea what we are talking about? Well, let’s jerk your memory – do you feel like you clench your jaws when stressed, disappointed or angry? What happens to your teeth when you are thinking about something too hard?
While it may not happen to everyone, studies show that you may be among the 8 to 10 percent of individuals who clench their teeth or jaws. Though it feels like something, someone does daily, jaw or teeth clenching, better known as bruxism isn’t healthy. It could be a sign of more serious medical issue like TMJ (temporomandibular jaw syndrome).
In the US alone, it affects between 30 and 40 million children and adults.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a condition characterized by involuntary grinding of teeth and the clenching of the jaws to the extent that it causes wearing of teeth (a tooth) and even breaking. It could also cause disorders of the jaw where you experience limited movement and pain, and you may also suffer constant headaches.
Is bruxism common with any age group?
It turns out that bruxism affects children as well as adults but, the condition is prevalent in adults aged between 25 and 44 years. While people grind teeth and clench their jaws, it only happens occasionally, and to a certain degree. Studies show that bruxism is related to stress or anxiety.
Is bruxism the same kind for everyone?
It turns out that that bruxism manifests in four ways – awake and sleep bruxism and primary and secondary bruxism.
Do you find that you involuntarily clench your teeth and your jaw bracing when prodded by some stimuli? You might be suffering from awake bruxism. While awake bruxism is not characterized by tooth grinding, it causes damage in the long run.
It is also called nocturnal or sleep-related bruxism
Do you rhythmically grind your teeth, with sustained jaw muscle contractions? You could have night bruxism. Unfortunately, sleep bruxism doesn’t occur on its own. In most cases, it is a response to arousals when sleeping, especially during periods of awakening. Therefore, you could think of sleep bruxism as a sleep disorder. It has also been noted that more than 80 percent of bruxism episodes result from arousals when sleeping. There is a close relationship between bruxism and obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea refers to a condition that is accompanied by periods where you stop breathing when sleeping – it is closely associated with daytime sleepiness, as well as non-restorative sleep.
Besides sleep apnea, sleep bruxism is associated with other sleep disorders and conditions such as hypnagogic hallucinations (the state of consciousness that exists between sleep and wakefulness), sleep talking, as well as violent behaviors during sleep and in REM sleep disorders.
And, that isn’t all. While sleep disorders could play a role in the development of sleep bruxism, it is apparent that psychological disorders do have a role to play too. Stress and anxiety are at the center of the psychological problems, and they are known to exacerbate teeth clenching and grinding when sleeping.
Lastly, sleep bruxism could also stem from the regular use of caffeine, alcohol, and alcohol.
This occurs where a prior medical condition is non-existent.
This happens when clenching and grinding of teeth result from a pre-existing medical or psychiatric condition. An association exists between teeth grinding seen during periods of wakefulness, and secondary bruxism which results from recreational drugs and medications like antidepressants.
While some experts view bruxism as a habit, it could be the body’s reaction to misaligned teeth according to Colgate. At the same time, bruxism could be a sign of a rare disease which affects the muscles and nerves in the face.
What Are The Possible Causes Of Bruxism?
While the types of bruxism explain above shed light into some causes, we explored the causes in greater detail.
Stress and anxiety
With the most affected age-group lying between 25 and 44 years, it is not surprising to note that the main cause of bruxism is anxiety and, or stress. Most people clench the jaw or grind teeth when anxious or when stressed.
With research placing the number of teeth grinding from stress at 70 percent, most of which happen at night, it is clear that anxiety and stress will always affect you consciously and subconsciously.
As mentioned above, sleep bruxism/ teeth grinding is common with sleep disorders and conditions or habits like punching, kicking, or mumbling when asleep. Teeth grinding also has close links to sleep paralysis and sleep apnea.
Personality types – aggressive and oversensitive people
Having an overly sensitive or an aggressive personality makes you susceptible to bruxism. Individuals who have strong negative emotional responses to frustration, loss or threats tend to be more self-critical, overly sensitive, and more likely to grind their teeth. It is also common with hurried and overly competitive individuals.
Intestinal parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, and protozoa make you more susceptible to teeth grinding. This is common in children.
Your lifestyle plays a significant role in the kind and quality of life you lead. Excessive consumption of alcohol, the use of recreational drugs, smoking, and drinking caffeinated drinks excessively will increase your risk of bruxism by making you agitated and stressed.
As mentioned above, some medications increase your risk of bruxism. The most common culprits are antidepressants and antipsychotics.
Improper teeth alignment
If your teeth are misaligned, or you have one tooth that is out of order, you may end up grinding the tooth.
Lastly, babies grind teeth when teething.
What Are The Symptoms Of Bruxism?
A bruxer, a less than fancy name for anyone suffering from bruxism may experience these symptoms:
- Dull headaches in the morning
- Tight, uncomfortable, and painful jaws in the morning
- Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles
- A grinding sound at night
- Chronic pain in the face
- Painful jaw joints
- Sleep disruptions
- Worn enamel
- Swelling on one side of the lower jaw from clenching
- Damaged teeth, injured gums, and broken dental fillings.
- Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheeks
- Increase in tooth sensitivity or pain
- Flattened teeth
Risk factors for bruxism
- Age – it is common for children and adults aged 25-44 years
- The use of certain medications like antidepressants
- Genetics predispositions
- Medical disorders like dementia, Parkinson’s disease, GERD, epilepsy, sleep-related disorders, night terrors, ADHD, and other mental health disorders.
This is a lot to take in at once but bear with us as we uncover the best natural remedies for teeth grinding.
Natural Remedies For Teeth Grinding
Since teeth grinding can cause loosening, fracturing or loss of teeth, it should be remedied. You should also note that chronic grinding of teeth causes wearing down of teeth to stumps and you may need bridges, new crowns, root canals, partial dentures, implants, or worse complete dentures. Teeth grinding could cause TMJ or even change the shape of your face making your unrecognizable.
With these risk, it is crucial to seek immediate help. Before you seek medication from the dentist, or even when getting help from the professionals, you may want to explore essential oils.
Essential Oils For Bruxism
Essential oils will calm down your nerves, lower your anxiety levels, and even help you control the compulsion to grind teeth. Some of the essential oils for bruxism contain pain-relieving properties, and they help in managing the pain that comes from grinding teeth.
The essential oils also contain anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic, sleep-inducing, and relaxing properties. They also strengthen blood vessels while preventing nerve damage, and also lower the heart rate and the blood pressure.
Keep reading to find out the best essential oils for teeth grinding.
- Lavender essential oil
Here is what we can all agree on: life gets overwhelming sometimes, right. While going out for a run or screaming your lungs out sounds like an epic plan, there is always something better – lavender essential oil.
Here is why: lavender essential oil works like a calming magic wand, helping you relax; and somehow, melting the stress away.
And that is not all: since teeth grinding creates a considerable amount of pain and pain gets worse when you feel stressed, the oil helps to reduce the pain felt.
So how do you use lavender essential oil? You could smell the oil by adding a few drops to your diffuser. Or, even better, mix a few drops of the essential oil with a carrier oil like lavender oil and, massage your neck and jaw until you feel relaxed.
What’s more: studies have proven that lavender essential oil brings an overwhelming state of relaxation to all body muscles.
This comes from its immense anxiolytic, sedative, anticonvulsive, analgesic, mood stabilizing, and neuroprotective properties.
The best part is that it helps in the management of anxiety attacks and depressive feelings. It gets better – it fights inflammations and boosts your noradrenaline and dopamine levels, boosting your mood and making you happy.
But, there’s a catch, you shouldn’t use it at night if asthmatic, and you should talk to your doctor first if you suffer from any heart problems.
- Ylang ylang essential oil
If you suffer from sleep-related bruxism, ylang-ylang holds the remedy to your problem.
How? The oil lowers tension before you sleep, reducing teeth grinding and jaw clenching at night. Ylang-ylang essential oil also can lower blood pressure and the skin temperature, leaving you more relaxed and calm. he
That’s not all: you could also benefit from the oil’s ability to relieve depressive episodes, as well as the stress-related problems. Being antispasmodic, it relaxes the jaw muscles, reducing pain.
Anything you should be wary about with this oil? Well, you shouldn’t use it when pregnant and when breastfeeding because of its estrogen-like effects.
- Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Wondering what’s special about Roman chamomile oil? Well, like chamomile tea, it has soothing effects, and it helps induce peaceful sleep.
So, what can it do? With its sedative and calming effects, it will reduce jaw muscle spasms. By relaxing your jaws, it saves you the trouble of unclenching your jaw muscles, relieving the tension on your teeth.
Wondering when you can use it? Well, the oil is non-restrictive, and you can use during the day or at night.
And, that is not all – the oil helps relax and also regulate your breathing and your heartbeat.
For the best effects, diffuse the oil in especially if dealing with anxiety or an insurmountable fear of closed spaces.
What’s more, Roman Chamomile essential oil holds immense anti-inflammatory properties. Did you know that the Roman chamomile oil contains purifying effects for the skin and it also balances mood?
Note, however, that it is not advisable to use the oil in concentrations above 10 or 15 percent as a home remedy for bruxism. It can also induce vertigo or sleep so; you shouldn’t use it when operating heavy machinery.
- Juniper Berry Essential Oil
You are probably wondering what this essential oil has to do with bruxism, right? Well, juniper berry essential oil is one of the most recommended essential oils for jaw pain.
How? It is effective in relieving nerve pain associated with teeth grinding. To deal with the jaw pain resulting from bruxism, controlling the nerve pain is crucial, hence the importance of this oil.
That is not all: the oil antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects make the oil a household staple.
It gets better; juniper berry essential oil promotes better breathing, and it also stimulates the elimination of water from tissues, improving edema that worsens the pain.
- Frankincense Essential Oil
Besides its use in religious circles, frankincense essential oil works like a charm in the management of bruxism.
Why do I say that? Well, the oil is an anti-inflammatory agent that prevents further swelling in the jaw muscles. Being an anti-inflammatory agent, the oil also relieves pain along the jaw muscles.
And on top of that, frankincense essential oil is a stress buster that fights negative emotions. It is, therefore, suitable for the management of anxiety and depression. The sedative effects of the oil also help in the management of the pain, while reducing the frequency and the strength of teeth grinding.
- Peppermint Essential Oil
Wondering what else to expect from peppermint essential oil other than the refreshing feeling that awakens you? Well, the oil commonly used in aromatherapy effectively reduces pain by reducing your blood pressure, pulse, skin temperature, as well as your brain activity.
Whether you apply the oil topically (after diluting it with essential oil), or you inhale it after adding it to your diffuser or humidifier, the oil lowers stress and anxiety. It also reduces depressive episodes.
The best part is that peppermint essential oil prevents night-time teeth grinding.
It is calming, and it will boost your mood. Pain melts away when you are happier, right?
- Valerian Essential Oil
Have you been looking for a natural remedy for anxiety, especially since you want to avoid depressants?
Well, you are in luck because valerian essential oil plays a big role in preventing your anxiety episodes.
Why? In the same way that the oil is effective in treating insomnia, it will help you relax as it has powerful nerve-calming effects. Its sedative effects will help you sleep better, and also reduce the pain that results from the chronic grinding of teeth.
What’s more, the oil relieves headaches and it de-stresses.
It works best when inhaled.
- Geranium Essential Oil
Wondering why you need to use geranium essential oil to manage bruxism?
Let’s see? Perhaps the use of the oil comes from the fact that the oil brings out positive emotions, relieving stress and calming your nerves.
It could also be from the sedative effects that will send you to deep, restful sleep, without teeth grinding.
Sounds amazing, right?
- Jatamansi Essential Oil
Is this the first time you are hearing about jatamansi essential oil? You are not alone. But despite the oil sounding new to our ears, the oil from Nepal, an ayurvedic oil, has been used for centuries to relieve anxiety and stress.
It is a supreme old famed for relaxation, rejuvenation, and for rest.
What’s more, the oi relieves the symptoms of depression by decreasing the levels of GABA neurotransmitters and the MAO receptors in the brain.
So, how can you experience the benefits of jatamansi essential oil? With the stress forcing you to grind your teeth and clench your jaws, you can apply the oil and a carrier oil, in equal parts, then apply the oil to your temples and the forehead. You can also inhale the oil directly from the palm of your hands.
- Rosemary Essential Oil
To add to your list of the top essential oils for bruxism is an oil considered sacred by the ancient Greeks and the Romans. The essential oil from this delicious smelling herb could be all you need to relieve the pain and the stress on your jaw muscles.
If your jaw is sore from all the grinding, you can trust rosemary essential oil to replace the pain pills. How? The oil is a natural analgesic.
What’s more, the oil will relieve any respiratory problems you may have, while boosting your mental activity.
To top it all, rosemary essential oil finds use in aromatherapy where is relieves stress by decreasing the levels of cortisol in the blood. With stress at the center of bruxism, rosemary oil will help you improve your quality of life (stress wreaks havoc on your life) and also improve your oral health.
- Bergamot Essential oil
If you are battling with emotional pain and depression, then you should consider having this oil in your home. Smelling the oil boosts your mood and enhances happiness. Topical application on your tummy, after diluting it with a carrier oil will help you feel better. It also alleviates anxiety and stress.
But, that is not all: bergamot essential oil reduces pain and muscle aches thanks to its analgesic properties.
- Clary Sage Essential Oil
Wondering how clary sage essential oil can help you with teeth grinding and jaw clenching?
Well, this oil boasts antiseptic, antispasmodic, sedative, and analgesic properties. These properties will help with the symptoms of teeth grinding, the causes and the insurmountable amount of pain you could be in right now.
Also, being a nervine, it has a great deal of control over pain, anxiety, and depressive feelings.
Other Natural Remedies For Teeth Grinding
What else can you do besides inhaling and applying diluted essential oils?
- Use a warm compress
To reduce the swelling and the pain, and to relax the muscles, to prevent jaw clenching and grinding, hold a wet and warm cloth around the jaw.
- Muscle exercises
Jaw exercises working the jaw muscles will alleviate the pain from pain grinding.
An example is stretching exercises – clench the jaw muscles tightly, then release and relax the muscles completely. The stretching exercises will relieve the pain significantly.
- Enhance a sleep hygiene and change your sleeping habits
The cause of bruxism in children and adults is mainly lifestyle habits. Making some changes will help with sleep bruxism significantly, especially if have disturbed sleep.
- So, what are the habits you should embrace?
Well. Start by limiting daytime naps, make your sleeping space a peaceful and even dark haven, and avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Cut out your alcohol intake too.
You guessed it; yoga works for just about everything concerning your body. While improving your concentration and making you flexible, it could also help with facial issues like bruxism.
But, how exactly does it help? Well. Yoga relaxes you and also lowers the amount of stress building up in the body.
The trick, however, is to find the right pose. Warrior pose, camel pose, and bridge poses are helpful.
Besides yoga, you should also try meditation and visualization.
You could also try massages, deep breathing exercises and herbal teas.
While teeth alignment and even Botox treatments present as the main treatment remedies once you see a dentist, we recommend taking that road after trying natural remedies.
Here’s the bottom line, deal with the cause, not the symptoms.