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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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