Teeth grinding explained – Relief and treatment options

Hey fam, it’s Dr Rick again with the second video in our series on bruxism diagnosis and treatments. If you haven’t seen the self-diagnosis video yet, jump up here and have a watch of them.

Today we’re going to talk about:

  1. Home remedies for symptomatic relief
  2. Home exercises that can help to improve the condition
  3. When it’s time to see a professional for treatment and what treatments are available to help. 

As promised, here are 7 things you can do about at home, right now, that will improve the tension and ease muscle  pain:

How to get some relief at home

  1. Warm, moist heat: Something like a heat pack or a hot water bottle wrapped in a warm, moist towel can improve function and reduce pain.
  2. Ice. Ice packs can decrease inflammation and also numb pain and promote healing. Do not place an ice pack directly on your skin. Keep the pack wrapped in a clean cloth while you are using it. Do not use an ice pack for more than 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Soft Diet. Just like any other muscle that gets sore when you work it out really hard, switching to soft or blended foods can allow the jaw to rest temporarily. Do your best to avoid hard, crunchy, and chewy foods. Do not stretch your mouth to accommodate such foods as corn on the cob, apples, or whole fruits.
  4. Over the-Counter Analgesics. Short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief from jaw discomfort. With this method, please be careful of any existing allergies or interactions of this drug with other medications or unrelated disease such as asthma.
  5. Jaw Exercises. Slow, gentle jaw exercises may help increase jaw mobility and healing. Your health care provider or a physical therapist can evaluate your condition and suggest appropriate exercises based on your individual needs. We have made a few videos of exercises and stretches, which you can watch *here* I can talk you through even more if you’d like, but basically, stretching the jaw open and massaging out knots in the muscles is the basic premise behind these exercises
  6. Relaxation Techniques. Relaxation and guided imagery can be helpful in dealing with the pain that accompanies TMJ dysfunction. Deep, slow breathing enhances relaxation and modulates pain sensations. Some have found yoga, massage, and meditation helpful in reducing stress and aiding relaxation.
  7. Magnesium Supplementation. Magnesium has been shown to improve relaxation in sleep and to help with sore and tired muscles

In addition to these methods, try to avoid:

  1. Clenching or grinding your teeth – catch yourself and stop doing it.
  2. Gum chewing – which acts as an extra strain on chewing muscles and does not allow for them to rest and heal
  3. Cradling mobile on your shoulder, which may irritate jaw and neck muscles, and generally using the phone and screens for the minimum amount of time possible.

Professional relief from pain related to stress and tension:

  1. See a massage therapist or physiotherapist that is trained in managing jaw muscle tension – this could also be due to tension from other areas such as your back and neck
  2. See a dentist for one of the following treatments:
    1. Splint therapy
    2. Prescription muscle relaxant and/or pain relief medication
    3. Photobiomodulation (laser pain relief)
    4. Muscle relaxant injections

Guys, clenching and grinding and muscle tension is an incredibly destructive, not to mention uncomfortable and worrying habit to be stuck in. Get in touch with the team if you have questions or concerns about anything we’ve covered, or leave a comment below. 

Also, if you’ve ever caught a friend or family member clenching their teeth together like *this* or heard them grinding their teeth while sleeping, send them this video, you may save them considerable pain and expense if we can get them out of the habit early.

Hope you’re all doing well and being safe, take care and keep smiling.