According to a recent report from the Academy of General Dentistry, a professional association for licensed dentists, one in three people suffer from nocturnal bruxism. Better known as teeth grinding, bruxism generally occurs during sleep and can cause a whole host of health complications, including permanent damage to teeth and the bones of the jaw. Because is a nocturnal disorder, most bruxers (people who grind their teeth) don’t know they’re doing it.
- Jaw and/or tooth soreness or pain
- Dull, constant headaches
- Cuts on the inside of the cheeks (from biting)
- Tooth sensitivity, often to cold or hold beverages
- Inflammation of the gums (also called gingivitis)
- Cracked, chips, or otherwise damaged teeth
In the overwhelming majority of cases, bruxism is caused by heightened levels of stress. The best way to relieve this unhealthy stress is to get more exercise. Many patients have reported almost immediate improvement with meditation routines that help them relax. Yoga and martial arts training both consistently provide stress relief for patients who grind their teeth at night.
As it does with most disorders, diet also play a huge role in successfully treating bruxism. Eating three healthy meals each day and avoiding snacking, especially on sugary foods, have proved effective at treating the problem. It is also extremely important to avoid alcohol, since booze disrupts healthy sleeping patterns and makes it more likely that you will grind your teeth while in a hypnagogic state.