Bothered by a sore jaw, headache or tooth pain first thing in the morning? It’s likely to be a result of nighttime teeth grinding, which often happens when we’re stressed.
Also called bruxism, teeth grinding may affect one in three people. And dentists report bruxism has skyrocketed during the past couple of challenging years, with many folks clenching and grinding up to 100 times a night without realizing it! Fortunately, there are a few at-home tricks you can try to relieve jaw clenching and tension.
Try the noon trick.
Drink as much coffee or tea as you like before noon, then switch to decaf, and you’ll cut the risk of nighttime teeth grinding! Turns out, up to nine hours after caffeine’s “energy boost” seems to have faded, it continues to stimulate muscles, triggering you to grind as you sleep. But this tweak gives the body enough time to process the stimulant, allowing muscles to fully relax overnight and block next-day headaches in the process.
Tap away tension.
Stress is the top cause of nighttime grinding, and there’s an easy fix: When you feel tension building during the day, tap your temples for 30 seconds. Researchers found this type of tapping (also known as EFT or emotional freedom technique) calms the brain as effectively as acupuncture — no needles required. Indeed, research in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine suggests EFT lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 37 percent —enough to tamp down grinding and prevent morning head and jaw pain. For other exercises you can do to relieve jaw pain, check out the below video from Dr. Jeffery L. Brown on the Sleep & TMJ Therapy Channel.
Chew on this.
While you’re sound asleep, teeth grinding puts enormous force on delicate tooth enamel than when you chew! Over time, this may even cause teeth to crack. Cushion the blow with a nighttime mouth guard. It cloaks your teeth in a soft shield that blocks your upper and lower teeth from making contact while also encouraging jaw muscles to relax. One to try: Reazeal Custom Fit Mouth Guard (Buy from Amazon, $14.90).
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.