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Three All-Natural Strategies For Dealing With Chronic Bruxism

Bruxism--commonly known as grinding your teeth--is a fairly common condition that is estimated to affect somewhere around 30 to 40 million Americans each year. Over time, constant grinding can wear down the enamel on your teeth, making it difficult to chew and introducing the potential for serious decay. It can also cause headaches, neck aches, and a variety of other musculoskeletal problems. In this short guide, you'll learn about three all-natural strategies you can use to help alleviate bruxism.

Tackle Your Stress

Research has shown that stress is often a component in chronic bruxism. Whether you're a student or a workaholic, finding ways to handle your stress may help to alleviate some of your symptoms. Try 30 minutes of yoga or meditation each day after work or school--it will help you unwind and let go of the day's frustrations, ensuring that you're calm when it comes time for bed.

At night, spend some time focusing on relaxation before you turn out the light. Lay prone on your back, and breathe while counting to three slowly. Then, hold your breath for another slow count of three. Next, count to three as you slowly release your breath. Repeat this until you feel yourself begin to relax. 

For added effect, try combining this exercise with progressive relaxation. Starting at your toes, clench each set of muscles on either side of your body and hold them for four to five seconds. Then, consciously relax the muscles completely. Work from your feet all the way up to your forehead, clenching, holding, and then relaxing the muscles gently. Pay particular attention to problem areas for those who brux, including the back, neck, shoulders and face.

If stress is a chronic problem by itself, or you find yourself experiencing periods of intense anxiety or sadness, addressing those issues may help to reduce your chronic bruxism. Consider seeking the guidance of a therapist. Working with a skilled professional one on one can help you to develop good emotional self-regulation, giving you the tools and knowledge you need to relax when life gets tough.

Cut the Coffee

Ah, coffee—all throughout America, it's the signature cuppa people drink to get them motivated and moving through long days at work. While research is showing that  drinking coffee may have at least some health benefits, especially when you drink it black, not everyone can tolerate caffeine in the same way. At the end of the day, caffeine is still a stimulant drug, and stimulant drugs can absolutely spur on periods of bruxism. 

If you're cringing at the thought of cutting out caffeine entirely, start by just reducing how much you ingest. Try drinking half-caf, decaf, or even one less cup of coffee at the end of your day. Or, try drinking green tea instead of fully caffeinated coffee; its reduced caffeine will provide you with a bit of energy without overstimulating you. Above all else, make sure to avoid caffeine after around 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. during the day so you're ready to rest by bedtime.

A final note: don't forget those bottles of soda, either--the average 12 oz bottle of cola contains around 35 mg of caffeine.

Try Supplementing With Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the body's most important minerals, yet up to 80 percent of Americans are thought to be deficient in it. Supplementation has several unique benefits for those who suffer from spasms in the neck, jaw, or shoulders. Often used as a mild muscle relaxer, this important mineral relaxes smooth muscles and reduces tension. Studies have shown that magnesium also has a relaxing effect on the entire body, helping to decrease stress so that you're ready to rest well.

Magnesium supplementation has the potential to reduce bruxism indirectly in two ways:

  • Smoother, more relaxed smooth muscles in the face, jaw, neck and shoulders may reduce the rate of bruxism
  • Magnesium's relaxing effects help to ensure that you're sleepy and ready to rest when bedtime comes

To supplement with magnesium, experts recommend starting with around 310 mg/day if you are a woman over the age of 19. If you are a woman over the age of 31, the recommended daily dose is 320 mg/day. For males, the recommended starting dose for age 19 to 30 is 400 mg. Males 31 or older should increase this to 420 mg/day.

If you've struggled with chronic bruxism for some time, or you find the above steps just aren't enough to curb your symptoms, it may be time to reach out to your dental care team. There are many advanced treatments to help reduce both the incidence of and damage caused by chronic bruxism. For more information, contact a company like Family Dental Center TriCities, PC.