Bruxism is the unfortunate habit of teeth grinding. It causes tight and constricted jaw muscles and can make movement in the area very challenging. In addition to headaches and severe pain, bruxism can lead to disorders of the jaw, tooth wear, and even breakage. In order to save your mouth from unwanted and unnecessary pain, here are six exercises you can do to help with bruxism:
Use your tongue
Place the tip of your tongue at the top of your mouth, close to your front teeth, like you are about to say “nnnn”. Hold your tongue in this position for as long as you can and repeat often. Doing this prevents your jaws from clenching and is an active solution to your problem. The only downside is that you’ll have to be awake to perform this exercise, so it won’t help with sleep grinding.
Protect your teeth during sleep
This is less of an exercise and more of a preventative measure. Dentists have protective devices for your teeth that resemble sports mouth guards, but are designed specifically to stop clenching and grinding at night. These devices are worn while you sleep, keeping your teeth apart even when your mouth is closed. You can purchase dental guards at the pharmacy, but it’s strongly advised that you visit your dentist to be fitted for one, as everyone is different.
Yawning repeatedly and often
Yawn 5-10 times in a row. Yawning stretches your jaw muscles when they become constricted, which can help your face feel less tense. Just like stretching after a long session in the gym, yawning after having your jaw clenched will relax your muscles.
Massage your jaw
This exercise works best in the shower because the warm water will run down your face, helping soften the area. Press gently with your fingertips on the muscles of the jaw joints on each side of your face and make small circles. This will help muscle knots diminish.
Roll your shoulders
You can perform this exercise standing or sitting. Move your shoulders upwards then roll them backwards. Complete the circular motion and repeat until your shoulders feel more relaxed. If your shoulders are relaxed, you will be less inclined to grind your teeth.
Get your neck moving
Sitting or standing, count to 10 as you slowly bring your chin towards your chest. Your chin should be down as you reach 10. Remain in this position for 10 seconds. Then, move your head slowly upwards counting to 10. When you reach 10, your neck should be back in its normal position. Hold for 10 seconds and start over until your muscles feel loosened. Concentrate on keeping your face and jaw relaxed while doing these exercises. While they’re not a cure for bruxism, they will help you relieve some of the pain associated with it.
If you find yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during the day or at night, contact your dentist to find a solution that will work best for you!