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How to Stop Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

How to Stop Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Stress, including anxiety, anger, and frustration, has many effects on your physical body and on your sleep, especially if it is suppressed.

You may not even be aware of some of its effects. Teeth-clenching and grinding are two of them.

The following signs may be your only clue that you are doing it, unless you grind your teeth and have a sleep-partner who can hear it.

Symptoms of Clenching and/or Grinding

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and jaw pain
  • Neck pain
  • Chronic headaches
  • Earaches or ringing in the ears
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Gum recession
  • Weakening, grinding down and/or chipping of teeth
  • Disrupted or lack of sleep

You can get fitted for a mouth guard at your dentist’s office, which may be costly and uncomfortable, but it is a quick fix for nighttime. Or you can replace the habit — a better choice especially if you’re doing it while you are awake as well.

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What to Do

  1. The normal at-rest position for the mouth (and the yogic position as well) is:
    • Lips closed
    • Teeth slightly apart
    • Tongue-tip elevated to the alveolar ridge (the bump behind your upper teeth) or the blade elevated with the tip behind or between the teeth.

This position will lessen the tension on the TMJ and the massiter muscle.

I retrained myself about five years ago and I rarely catch myself clenching anymore. When I do, it’s as simple as changing my positioning.

Eventually, my tongue slid forward so the tip now sits behind my teeth and more of the blade is between my back teeth. If it is more comfortable there, who am I to argue as long as my teeth are still parted?

  1. Awareness is the key to change.

If you start increasing your awareness of your at-rest mouth position during the day and changing it to the normal position, it will be easier at night.

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  1. Preparing for Sleep.

When you are getting ready to go to sleep, check your positioning.

At the beginning, I often had to place my tongue between my teeth to retrain my jaw to remain open. I was a ‘clencher’ who was able to make the conscious change permanent but it took time, awareness, and focused attention. It took remembering and knowing I was worth it! My mouth now remains in normal at-rest position, both day and night, generally without ever thinking about it.

  1. Relieving Pain

If you are experiencing any pain associated with clenching and grinding your teeth, including headaches, try the ‘screaming stretch’ until you have reprogrammed your at-rest mouth position.

The ‘screaming stretch’ is performed by opening the mouth as wide as you can while sticking out your tongue (this can be performed with or without screaming!).

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Hold that position for approximately thirty seconds.

Perform as many times a day as you feel pain or just to prevent it. This position stretches the massiter muscle and flexes the TMJ.

Retraining you mouth position could still help alleviate the symptoms, even if your clenching or grinding is caused by:

  • Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion) –please see your dentist.
  • Complications resulting from a neurological disorder.
  • Side effects of some psychiatric medications.

I wish I had documented how long it took me to reposition, but since I didn’t, the best advice I can offer you is: give it time and plenty of attention.

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You will be able to affect a permanent change that will eliminate the headaches and all the other pains caused by clenching or grinding, and improve the quality of your sleep. It will also prevent any further damage to your teeth and gums.

Don’t these sound like goals worthy of your time and attention? Not to mention the money you can save on pain medication and dental care.

So, take the steps to stop clenching and grinding your teeth today!

More by this author

Michele Goldstein

Michele is a Spiritual-Interfaith Minister, life counselor, teacher, writer, and gratitude-junkie.

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind How to Stop Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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