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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 Become the Master of Your Mind How to Stop Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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