Is there a single cause of adult teeth grinding?
If only it were that simple.
Dentists have traced teeth-grinding back to anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, overconsumption of caffiene—even braces can be the culprit.
Ok, so how can you spot your propensity for grinding your teeth?
What’s your masseter muscle got to do with it?
If you’re a fitness junkie, you can likely identify every muscle in your torso and extremities but when it comes to tooth grinding, you need to look further north. Without a masseter muscle, you would be taking meals with a straw, because this parallelogram-shaped muscle connects your mandible (jawbone) to your cheekbone.
The masseter muscle is the most powerful muscle in your entire body.
Tell-tale signs of tooth grinding include:
- Constant headaches
- Jaw tenderness
- Teeth are worn down and sometimes show cracks
Let's Talk About Square Face Syndrome
Once it reaches advanced stages, it can physically destroy your teeth and even alter your facial appearance. These are common conditions that patients develop over time if they keep grinding their teeth and don’t seek attention from a dentist to correct the problem.
"With people who have sleep bruxism, the muscles go into hyper-function," says James Mah, a professor of clinical science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Dental School.
"Much like a bodybuilder that's doing repetitive exercise day after day, the muscles enlarge."
Teeth wear down and shorten due to being perpetually abused, while the facial muscles become very pronounced and bigger. This extreme outcome happens so frequently, the dental profession has given it a name: Square Face Syndrome.
Solutions for teeth grinders to try:
1. Guard Yourself: The easiest and least expensive way to try to work on your tooth grinding habit is to be fitted for a mouthguard by your dentist. If money is an issue, the second best solution is to buy an over-the-counter guard and wear it every night.
2. Zen Out: Counter that stress by exercising, meditation, taking a walk outside sans phone. Warm baths have been known to ease tension.
3. Get a Little Woo-Woo: Consider alternative therapies like acupressure, facial massages, acupuncture, essential oils and other holistic practices.
Massaging your lower jaw and the surrounding areas with a gua sha tool (we like the one from Dr. Nadia) + Midnight Shift Oil will help relieve tension and stress, helping you relax for bed. Plus, it feels heavenly! ⠀⠀
Double down on this skincare primetime with a relaxing oil that nourishes your skin AND helps you fall asleep with its aromatherapy components.
4. Cut it: Eliminate or drastically cut back on sugar, caffeine and alcohol—particularly before bed, say the folks at The Sleep Institute. Schedule a bedtime facial massage instead of eating a cookie and see if you don’t have sweet dreams once you've added any or all of these practices to your daily schedule.