Jaw exercises to help with grinding teeth at night

Jaw exercises to help with grinding teeth at night

Bruxism is defined as a ‘repetitive jaw-muscle activity characterized by clenching or grinding of the teeth and/or by bracing or thrusting of the mandible’ (Lobezoo et al 2013).

Bruxism may involve a static clenching of the teeth, grinding, or a mixture of the two. There are two distinct circadian manifestations; either occurring during sleep (sleep bruxism) or during wakefulness (awake bruxism).

Most of the time, persons may not notice that they have grinding during the day but have it at night. That is considered sleep bruxism.

Other than costly tests such as muscle activity recording, Electromyography (EMG), or Polysomnography (PSG); the diagnosis of sleep bruxism is clinically based on reports of:

  1. Tooth-grinding sounds during sleep

  2. Dental findings such as tooth wear

  3. Morning symptoms of jaw muscle pain or stiffness, and

  4. Masseter muscle hypertrophy and pain

  5. Tongue scalloping and ridging on the cheek mucosa (‘linea alba’)

There are many reasons why persons have grinding of the teeth at night and consulting with a dental professional or physician is best to determine if there are any psychological reasons, effects of current prescription medications or other comorbidities.

It is important to note that sleep bruxism itself does not require treatment. Management is only indicated where problems arise as a result of it. If problems do arise, addressing the actual cause is the best therapeutic approach.

With that said, it is always recommended to get advice from your dentist to help save your teeth, or protect the dentition. This usually involves an oral appliance or night mouth guard. You may also want to have some relaxation exercises that can assist in sleep hygiene and behavioral strategies to possible reduce anxiety and stress.

Many times, individuals are already doing the above but continue to have morning symptoms of jaw muscle pain or stiffness from grinding the teeth at night.

I always recommend a thorough examination by a temporomandibular clinician, such as a physical therapist, for specific manual and exercise approach. We offer that in-house or tele-health, but here are 3 exercises to assist in range of motion of your jaw that could help. Enjoy!

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