What can I do About Teeth Clenching?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2020
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Teeth or jaw clenching is a condition that many people develop at some point in their lives. The condition is often associated with some type of repressed action to stress or worry. There may also be an underlying medical condition that leads to teeth clenching or bruxism. If this is a condition you are currently dealing with, there are several things you can do to identify the origin and receive effective treatment.

TMJ or teeth clenching can take place during the waking hours or while the individual sleeps at night. Since the clenching will eventually wear down the teeth, it is a good idea to see a dentist. After an examination, the dentist may recommend both short-term and long-term solutions for the clenched jaws. A short-term solution would be preparing a mouth guard to wear during the day as well as a night guard to slip in between the upper and lower plates just before going to bed. While the guards will help to prevent further damage to the teeth, they do not address the root cause of the issue.


The dentist will often talk with the patient to get an idea of how much and what type of stress may be present. This can lead to a referral to a counselor who can assist the patient in learning to minimize or control the effects of stress on the body. It is not unusual for the counseling to be accompanied with an exercise program, and possibly engaging in some type of meditation on a regular basis.

Depending on what the counselor uncovers, the patient may be treated with the use of medications aimed at easing depression or anxiety. Typically, counseling will continue in conjunction with the medication and hopefully lead to an enhanced frame of mind that causes the teeth clenching to be become less frequent and eventually cease.

When there is reason to believe the teeth clenching has a physical origin, an examination by a physician is a good idea. If the exam confirms the presence of some physical ailment that causes the teeth to clench, there are a couple of options to consider. One is the use of muscle relaxers to ease tension in the jawline. The medication is usually taken just before bedtime.

A second alternative to treating physical factors leading to teeth clenching is to have surgery. Many healthcare professionals consider this a viable option when something about the positioning of the teeth is identified as the root cause of the clenching and grinding. Surgery is often followed by counseling that focuses on behavior modification, since the habit of teeth clenching may remain after the physical origin has been removed.

Because children and adults may experience teeth clenching, there is no one approach that is right for everyone. Fortunately, dealing with clenched jaws effectively is possible regardless of age or gender. With the right treatment program, further tooth damage is alleviated and the patient can begin to move past whatever factors led to the clenching in the first place.



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