Dental Blog

Are You Battling Bruxism?

Are You Battling Bruxism?

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Bruxism Dentist Holland MI

The term “bruxism” is what your dentist refers to as grinding your teeth at night.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, over 8% of adults suffer from bruxism. This can lead to pain, such as headaches and tooth damage.

We don’t want you to have to battle bruxism forever.

If you’re looking for relief from jaw and tooth pain caused by bruxism, this guide is for you.

Take a Few Deep Breaths

Before bed, take a few deep breaths.

Relaxing is so important.

A few deep breaths before bed can go a long way. Stress is one of the top causes of grinding your teeth at night.

Your subconscious can continue working on things that bother you or cause stress. Your body then acts on those stresses by grinding your teeth.

If something’s on your mind, taking some time to breathe it out can be healthy.

People manage stress in different ways. For example, it may be helpful to adjust your nightly routine.

Do something that calms you down and puts your mind at ease.

Here’s a quick list of tips:

  • Avoid blue light
  • Avoid intense mental stimulation
  • Read a book
  • Watch a calming TV show
  • Listen to calming music
  • Practice meditation
  • Take 10-15 minutes to enjoy doing nothing
  • Drink a cup of decaf tea

Wear a Custom Night Guard

Protective options are sometimes intimidating for people, but they shouldn’t be. Custom night guards are completely normal and can free you from a lot of pain! If you’re suffering from bruxism, we may suggest a night guard to help prevent further oral damage.

We don’t recommend wearing a store-bought mouth guard as they’re not custom made to fit your mouth. This can cause future complications.

A night guard is also different from a sports mouth guard.

Sports guards protect your teeth from impact, not teeth grinding. Wearing one guard for both situations will result in the guard wearing out sooner and improper protection.

Our dentist can create a custom night guard by taking impressions of your teeth. That way, the night guard has a comfortable fit.

Don’t Chew on Pens or Pencils

Do you chew on your pens? Or pencils? Or other inedible objects?

Chewing on objects can cause tooth pain and oral damage. But it can also confuse your mind.

When you munch on things that aren’t food throughout the day, your brain and jaw get used to clenching. This becomes a problem at night when you’re trying to relax. Your brain doesn’t know whether to bite down on something or not.

To prevent this, try to find other ways to fidget, or chew on soft foods like bread or yogurt. For other helpful tips, be sure to check out our blog post that explains the 5 good habits for healthy teeth.

Here are a few of our fidgeting ideas to help keep you from chewing on pens and other objects.

You may even have a few of these lying around your home or office:

  • Fidget spinner
  • Doodle pad
  • Stress ball
  • Grip strengthener
  • Infinity cube
  • Bouncy ball

Limit Coffee and Alcohol

Our bodies have unique reactions to things like caffeine and alcohol. You may find yourself grinding your teeth at night more if you had that homebrew or glass of red. Or if you drink a lot of caffeine throughout the day, you may be feeling its ramifications while you sleep.

To save yourself from morning headaches and a painful jaw, try cutting these beverages out for a week or two.

Massage Your Jaw

Taking five minutes to gently massage your jaw can help ease pressure and jaw pain.

You may also apply a warm washcloth to your face. The heat will work to relax your jaw the same way you’d relax a muscle.

If you don’t want to use a washcloth, you could try a heating pad or massaging your jaw while taking a hot shower or bath. Taking a hot bath or shower at night is another great way to calm yourself down before bed!

Avoid Hard Foods

Foods like nuts and hard candies can put your jaw to work. But chewy foods like steak can also exhaust your jaw and hurt your teeth if you have bruxism.

You don’t have to cut these foods out of your diet forever. But until you’re able to get back on a normal sleeping routine, you might want to avoid them. Cutting them out won’t instantly cure you of bruxism but it will help your jaw relax during the day. This will help prevent teeth grinding while you sleep.

Start a New Hobby

Did you know that exercising and participating in hobbies can help relieve stress? Because stress causes most bruxism, these two tips are huge.

As a family dental practice, we want our patients to enjoy good oral health and wellbeing. Fitting an exercise routine into your day (at least 15 minutes!) can work wonders for your mental health.

A hobby also gives you something to think about or look forward to, which works in battling stress. Rather than lying awake at night with worries, you can think about things you enjoy like sports or projects.

Consider Hypnosis

While it may sound unusual, some people turn to hypnosis as a way to help with bruxism. According to the Bruxism Association, hypnosis works as a behavioral approach to teeth grinding.

By training your brain while awake, you can train your brain to not grind your teeth while asleep.

Continue Preventive Dental Visits

Even if you have your bruxism under control, it’s important that you continue seeing our dentist for preventive care. That way, he’ll be able to adjust or replace your night guard as needed so your smile is always protected.

He’ll also be able to detect any issues with your oral health so you can receive the appropriate treatment right away. For example, it’s not uncommon for people with bruxism to experience tooth sensitivity due to worn enamel.

Ready to Defeat Bruxism?

Dr. Brenton Habecker and his team at Macatawa Smiles want to make sure all your dental needs are met. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us online or by phone at (616) 396-7524.

If we haven’t met you yet, feel free to reach out and request an appointment!

This blog post has been updated.


Dear Patient Family,

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for all of us. Many of you have been forced to wait for dental care and we appreciate your understanding while we kept our office closed to follow orders from the Governor's Office.

We are happy to say that we are opening our office for all patient treatment on June 1st, 2020. Our hours of operation will go back to normal, Monday-Thursday 8am - 5pm. We want you to know that there will be some changes at your next appointment. Please be patient with us as our protocols will inevitably change as new guidelines are released.

  • We ask that you use our parking lot as the waiting room.
  • Please wear a mask when you come into the office and leave it on until entering the treatment room. Homemade is acceptable.
  • Only the person receiving treatment should come in the building, all others will be asked to wait in the car if at all possible. The exception will be for our minor patients who may have one parent accompany them.
  • We will be asking you some questions when you arrive at the office and we will also be taking your temperature.
  • We will not be able to offer magazines, drinks, or toys at this time as they cannot be disinfected to our standards. Eventually this will change and we will be happy to offer our amenities once again.

These changes have been made to adhere to the latest CDC guidelines and for the benefit of our patients and our staff. We want you to know that our office has always taken the safety of our patients very seriously and that we will continue to follow the highest levels of sterilization and disinfection to keep you protected. If you would like more information on what measures we have taken we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

We cannot say how excited we are to see all of our patients again and to provide for their dental needs. We look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces soon!

Dr. Habecker and Team