Refer to last week's post for tooth grinding causes and symptoms-
If stress is the cause of tooth grinding, then self-relaxation techniques, such as listening to music, taking a walk, or a having warm bath may help. Applying a warm, wet washcloth to the side of the face may help relax muscles, as well. Consulting qualified health care professionals is also recommended to relieve stress.
Keep in mind, however, that eliminating stress is not always the answer in preventing tooth grinding. An appliance, most commonly known as a nightguard, can be made by a dentist to alleviate signs and symptoms of tooth grinding. A thin layer of plastic (hard or soft) is molded to fit snugly over the teeth.. This appliance can be worn during the day or while you sleep. Nightguards help protect your teeth and any dental work, such as fillings and crowns, from wearing down or even fracturing. The nightguard can also help relieve excess pressure on the jaw joint and prevent damage to it. The appliance, also referred to as an occlusal splint, helps reduce pressure to the teeth and prevent damage to the gums and bone surrounding the teeth.
"Over the years, many patients have asked if over the counter(OTC) mouthguards work", says Dr. Cherukuri. "Patients initially choose them because of the relatively low cost and discover very quickly that they are unable to wear them at night because they are oversize and bulky. Mouthguards outside of mouth have very limited benefits", she adds humorously.
It is important to use a very carefully calibrated occlusal splint to improve or correct the bite discrepancies and OTC mouthguards may end up causing more harm. Dr. Cherukuri cautions.