Do you often grind your teeth at night or during the day? Teeth grinding or bruxism is more common than many of us realize, and it can disrupt your lifestyle and health in subtle ways, gradually leading to more painful and permanent problems.
The biggest problem is that many people may not realize that they have a teeth-grinding problem until they see visible symptoms. This is because many of us that struggle with the condition end up clenching or grinding our teeth unconsciously and involuntarily.
In many ways, the constant teeth grinding may have become part of your muscle memory, right? This is why you must reverse the process by retraining your jaw and facial muscles to ensure you don’t subconsciously grind or clench your teeth.
Here are some exercises for teeth grinding that should help.
Try Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PRM)
This isn't one but a series of exercises you can try if you're experiencing teeth grinding due to stress. What basically happens is that when we're under a lot of stress, our muscles become very tense without us realizing it; this includes our face, neck, and shoulder muscles as well. This leads to excessive jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
If this is something you’re experiencing, then PRM techniques are worth trying. You basically need to focus your attention on each muscle, tense it up, and slowly relax it. Repeat this three times for each muscle and move to the next. You can start from your toes and go all the way to your facial muscles.
Do The Tongue Exercise
This is a fairly simple exercise that you can do anytime throughout the day—you might even start doing this unconsciously at some point. All you need to do is place your tongue on the roof of the mouth near your front teeth and hold the tongue in this position for a bit—kind of like you're saying "nnn.” Keep the tongue there for as long as you comfortably can, and then repeat the motion.
This exercise will help keep your jaws from clenching, and it will definitely bring immediate results to your awake bruxism habits; for sleep bruxism, it may take a while for this to work.
Practice A Neutral Position for Your Tongue
Another thing you can do for your tongue and jaw muscles’ memory is practice a neutral position for these so that you don't unconsciously grind or clench your jaw.
To do this, open your jaw slightly to bring it to a more relaxed state (make sure your lips aren’t apart). Next, touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue and take slow but deep breaths while staying in this position for as long as possible (a few minutes at least).
We highly suggest that you try doing this several times a day in order to retrain your jaw and tongue accordingly.
Relax Your Tongue
Once you’re done with the first two exercises, give your tongue a chance to lay back and relax—literally! This exercise involved you moving your tongue toward the back of the mouth—as far back as it goes. Then, without changing the tongue’s position, slowly open your mouth wide and slowly close it. Complete a set of 20 like this, and you’ll notice your tongue feeling a lot less tense.
Yawn Wide and Often
This is another super simple exercise that you can do any time you like. In fact, you're probably already doing this multiple times a day—just do it more often and on purpose.
Yawning helps to stretch your jaw muscles, and when you’re doing it more consciously, you’ll notice how your face immediately feels less tense. So, we suggest you do a set of 8-10 yawns in a row. Consider doing this in the morning and at night—it’ll help you relax your muscles before bed and right after you wake up.
Give Your Jaw a Good Massage
This is more of a massage than an exercise, but it serves the same purpose, i.e., to keep you from teeth grinding and clenching. All you need to do is gently press your fingertips along the jaw muscles on both sides of your face. As you make small circles with your fingertips on the jaw joints, you'll notice the muscle knots gradually fading.
Pro Tip: Try this jaw massage while taking a shower with hot water—it’ll be very relaxing and effective with the hot water running down your face.
Do Some Shoulder Rolls
It’s important to understand how all the muscles in our body are connected. This means that your jaw muscles aren't the only ones you need to worry about when it comes to teeth grinding—get your shoulder muscles involved too!
What you need to do is sit or stand straight and move your shoulder upward, then continue by moving them backward; you’re basically completing a circular motion with the circles. You can repeat the circular motion until your shoulders feel completely relaxed.
With more relaxed shoulders, you’re less likely to grind your teeth!
Move Your Neck Too! (Chin Tucks)
Since your neck is directly connected to your face, you need to make sure it's relaxed as well. Start by standing up or sitting up straight, and slowly look down, bringing your chin to your chest—count to 10 as you do this. Once your chin is at your chest, count another 10 seconds before slowly moving your head upward until your neck is at its usual spot. Repeat this motion until your neck feels relaxed.
Also, while you’re doing this exercise, make sure your jaw and facial muscles aren’t too tense and your top and bottom teeth are apart.
Do A Mandible Stretch (With A Dynamic Twist!)
For this exercise, you're going to need to follow a whole 2-minute sequence, but it will help loosen your jaw muscles significantly.
Start by opening your mouth as wide as possible before closing it. Next, move your lower jaw toward the right—go as far as possible (don’t touch the jaw!). Once you've reached the extreme right, release and go toward the left side.
Next, jut your chin toward the front as far as possible without moving your neck and head out of alignment. Then forcefully bring the chin back toward your face as far as it can go.
Repeat this a few times!
While these are greatly effective exercises for teeth grinding that you can try every day, it's important to understand that teeth grinding can be triggered by stress or even caffeine intake. What's truly important is to protect your teeth, facial muscles, and surrounding nerves from the damage bruxism may cause to them.
The most straightforward way to go about this is to invest in teeth-grinding guards available online. There are night mouthguard for sale available online for light teeth grinders as well as those with a more serious teeth-grinding problem—you just need to look in the right places.
We do suggest looking for custom made night guards, though, like the ones we offer at Clear Comfort Night Guards. Since these are customized according to your teeth and mouth shape, they fit better and therefore offer more effective protection.
Also, you can take a quiz on our website to determine the best thickness for your custom night guards—check it out!