If you wake up in the morning with a headache, jaw pain, and a general feeling of aching and tightness, it’s possible that you’re dealing with a case of bruxism. More commonly known as teeth grinding, bruxism is a potentially dangerous issue that can lead to a ton of long-term damage to your teeth and overall mouth health. It can also seriously get in the way of you getting enough sleep at night.
The good news is, getting treated is simple. The first thing you have to do is figure out if you’re dealing with bruxism and why. For individuals who are highly stressed or emotionally taxed, teeth grinding could be the body’s way of trying to deal with that excess stress. If you’re dealing with teeth grinding, take the following steps to try and get ahead of the problem.
Figure Out Your Stress Level
Maybe you’ve had a hard time at work recently, or maybe you’re going through some personal issues that are really taking their toll. No matter what’s stressing you out, chances are your anxiety isn’t a new problem. If you’re someone who stresses easily, your bruxism has probably already done its share of damage. Some children even develop bruxism early as a response to stress or physical pain. If you’re feeling more stressed out than usual, it might be a good time to identify and address the source of your stress before taking more extreme measures.
Check Your Medication Side Effects
If you’re on new meds and you’ve just started to become aware of jaw pain or facial fatigue, it’s time to do some research and figure out if your tooth grinding could be linked to a more obvious cause. Some medications, such as specific antidepressants, list bruxism as a less common side effect. Bruxism could also be an indicator of sleep apnea, so it’s a good idea to look into who’s at risk for sleep apnea and see if you naturally fall into any of the common categories, such as:
- People with learning disabilities or ADHD
- People with high stress levels
- People who were not breastfed as children
Consult with a Doctor or Dentist
There’s no way to be absolutely certain about a bruxism diagnosis before you take a trip to the dentist. Getting seen by a professional will give you a good sense of how serious your condition actually is, and make you aware of all the available treatment options. While you’re at the doctor, be sure to ask about sleep apnea concerns as well.
There are many ways to deal with bruxism, including a few treatments that use natural supplements and herbs to help lower stress levels. On the more serious spectrum, individuals afflicted with bruxism can try the following:
- Botox: If you’re not responding to any other treatments, small injections of Botox can act as a muscle relaxant to help your jaw stop seizing up at night.
- Anti-Depressants and Muscle Relaxants: By helping lower stress levels, taking small doses of traditional anti-anxiety medications can also help stop bruxism from doing damage
- Dental Correction and Mouth Guards: If the damage is already severe, having your dentist do a bit of work to restructure the damaged areas will help with the pain, and may also help to slow down the bruxism itself. Mouth guards are also a helpful nighttime device for protecting against bruxism.
In less severe cases, taking natural supplements to give your body higher doses of calcium, magnesium, or vitamin B5 can help with bruxism-related damage. These vitamins can also help lower stress levels and provide a better night’s sleep.