I have been clenching my teeth for quite a long time now, and this 24/7, but it has become kind of a problem recently. I’ve been waking up every morning with pain in my jaw, the taste of blood on my tongue and small cuts on the inside of my cheeks. I’ve talked about it with my dentist, but all I got was “try not to stress too much”. So helpful really, obviously I hadn’t tried that before.
So here are some tips (other than “find cause of/reduce anxiety” :/) I’ve gathered and that help me everyday :
- Be aware of it and try to catch yourself. The past weeks have been very stressful for me, and I knew I’d be clenching really hard, so I trained myself to take a second and check if my muscles were contracted. I’ve been doing this for about a week, and I found myself clenching every single time.
- Take a deep breath ! And this comes from someone who really hates meditation/breathing exercices, and can’t breath properly. I tend to take really small breaths, so just like for the first tip, I try to stop and take a random deep breath. People around me sometimes think I’m being bored or annoyed, but that’s in fact just me breathing fully.
- Ask someone to check for you ! Even if your jaw looks the same clenched or relaxed, you can still ask your family/friends to give you small reminders. This also works for the breathing bit, or if you bite your nails. My mom for example, regularly tells me to breath loudly, so she can hear me, especially when I’m in a stressful period.
- Massage your jaw. Find the spot where you feel the most tension and give yourself a massage. It doesn’t need to be long, even a quick rub will do ! You can also apply a hot compress to help relax the muscles.
- Listen to soothing music. This goes with the “relax” part, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
- Wear retainers (or mouth guards but I don’t know much about them). This tip is more about reducing the damages you can do to yourself than reducing the causes of clenching itself, but it’s still worth mentioning. I first noticed I was grinding my teeth because the retainers I had after wearing braces were full of holes. I asked the dentist to keep them and eventually had new ones made because -hehe- I broke them one night. I don’t actually know if you can use rugby/soccer mouth guards for a long period of time so if anybody knows, feel free to add something !
- Make sure that it isn’t due to misaligned teeth. I should have mentioned it first, but obviously do check with your dentist if there’s anything in particular causing this.
- Could it be something else ? This might not be true for everyone, but I recently noticed that didn’t like the shape of my face when my jaw was relaxed (it’s slight but still). Oh. Could that be an unconscious reaction to that, just like pushing up your nose because you don’t like the way it looks, or whatever you can find ?? I’ll let that up to you.
And now, are you clenching your jaw ?