Any of you suffer from nighttime clenching? Jaw hurts in the morning and teeth are pretty sensitive. I wear a nightguard and it was rebalanced a few months ago with no problems until the last month or so. I did some Tai Chi for 30min last night to relax and it helped but not completely.
asked bybalor123 (3747)
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on May 30, 2012
at 01:23 PM
I see a lot of people suggesting supplements and relaxation but... due to my incurable procrastination and compulsive need to know stuff, I researched this extensively a couple of weeks ago.
The story goes like this:
1.Some of us are unfortunate and our facial skeleton does not develop optimally because of:
1.A: our mothers inadequate nutritional status when pregnant
1.B:neolithic, nutritionally deficient, food when growing up
1.C: too little use of facial muscles, due to lack of tough to-chew food
1.D: non-optimal oral position. (Most often this is due to mouth breathing (which I reason are due to allergies triggered by neolithic food, or frequent colds due to a weak immunesystem caused by nutritionally deficient neolithic foods.) For optimal growth of the upper dental arch (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible), the tongue must lay flat against the palate so as to oppose the external, inward force of the buccal (cheeks) soft tissue (The facial skeleton grows because of force exerted on it by its organs (tongue, eyes, brain) and by pull of the muscles). The tonge ensures that the upper dental arch grows to be wide in an outward direction, both to the sides and forward. I ensures forward growth of the face. Mouth breathers let their tongue drop down from the palate to rest in the floor of the mouth. Thus the upper dental arch grows to be narrow and as the size of the upper dental arch controls the growth of the lower dental arch, it to becomes narrow. Also the dropping down of the mandible to ensure a patent oral airway causes the mandible to grow in a downward angle instead of forward. The result is a narrow, long face with a receding chin and underdeveloped cheekbones.
2.Because of the underdeveloped, narrow and receding upper and lower dental arches there there is too little room for the tongue when you close your mouth, and so it falls backward into the back of your throat when you sleep, narrowing the airway, causing sleep apnea. Also because of the lack of forward growth of the upper dental arch the mandible is forced further back than would be normal when you close your bite. This makes your brain adjust the jaw muscles to push the mandible back, to attain a position of the joint that will make you able to bite your teeth together, but at the same time puts the Temporo-mandibular joint in an unfavorable position.
3.This unfavorable position of the T-M joint can cause A: the articular disc to dislocate forwardly when moving the joint, causing a popping sound. In time the disc will adhere to the bone at an unnatural site and this will cause your joint to lock. If there is crepitus the disc has most likely been disintegrated and you are now grinding away at the articular surfaces of the bones that make up the joint. B: the muscles of the jaw to become hyperactive and to cramp in an effort to hold the joint in a position so that the teeth will meet when you bite down. During the night your brain is trying to rest and will not be able to fine tune the position of the joint so it makes you clench down to keep it in the right position. This will make your muscles and teeth sore. Supplements can help reduce cramping in muscles i believe.
4.The lack of forward growth of the dental arches, inability to comfortably rest your tongue against the roof of your mouth and the dropping down of the mandible and backward position of the mandible causes you to alter your posture, pushing your head forward in order to widen the airway in your throat (which is narrowed by the downward, backward position of the mandible) and so forth. This will make your neck hurt, your back, and your head. A narrow airway can alternatively cause you to tilt your head backwards, with the same consequences as above.
I could go on and on about this, but hopefully you get the picture. The cure is not to do exercises aimed at relieving cramping of the jaw muscles which can worsen condition. 1. do not eat hard food, or gum or chewy meat if your jaw is popping, hurting of cramping. 2. You need orthodontic treatment to move your upper teeth forward (with maxillary expansion. I like the non invasive. low force technique of ALF appliances), so that your mandible is able to move into a more forward position, putting the T_M joint into its natural position thus relieving stress in the surrounding musculature.
I know this sounds crazy, but once you learn to identify different facial growth patterns you will start to analyze everybody??s face...it can never be unseen.
on May 30, 2012
at 12:09 PM
I suffered from bruxism for most of my life. I have tried all the above mentioned tricks. Because of what happened to me, I no longer believe that bruxism has a whit to do with "too much stress".
Bruxism seems to run in my family, so there is probably a genetic component, but that still doesn't explain why it happens. Because it's hardly a life-threatening condition (and I do believe it is abnormal, there's nothing adaptive about grinding your teeth to powder while sleeping) it doesn't get a lot of research attention.
One of the suggestions frequently made to people with bruxism is to try taking magnesium. Magnesium helped me a little. Correcting a vitamin D deficiency helped a lot more. My bruxism didn't completely resolve, though, until I corrected the iron deficiency I didn't even know I had.
If that surprises you, you're not alone. It surprised me. Never in a million years would I have connected this problem to iron.
The iron deficiency turned out to be very stealthy and took nearly a year to properly diagnose. It wasn't until about three months after I started iron replacement that I noticed a panoply of symptoms I had come to accept as being "part of who I am" were disappearing. Some of them I had lived with nearly my entire life.
My sleep improved dramatically. I went from chronic insomnia to sleeping like a baby and awaking refreshed after 8 hours of sleep. I am very excited about this.
For years, I have had recurrent neck and shoulder tension that was barely responsive to physiotherapy. Strangely, it would sometimes come and go for no discernible reason. Three months into iron replacement, it is gone.
Deep muscle twitching, which had become severe, is almost totally gone.
The tooth grinding has stopped. I know this because first, my girlfriend has pointed it out, and second, my jaw muscle is no longer sore and my teeth are no longer sensitive upon waking. My teeth sit solidly in the bone.
There are other things that have improved -- no more chronic joint pain, I am less anxious, I am less tired, my physical performance is better, and so is my color -- but those really deserve special attention in a more complete post on the subject.
I am all for meditation and relaxation exercises, and I do both myself, but this change was so dramatic that those things now seem so ridiculously inadequate in treating bruxism that they are almost a waste of time. None of the typical, conventional treatments actually address the cause. They're just palliative, and in my experience (now that I have experienced what actual relief feels like) they don't work.
This link may appear unrelated at first, but I encourage you to watch this entire presentation and see if you find yourself reflected in any of what Dr. Pickett describes.
Here are a few observations that might also be relevant:
Bruxism is most common in children. Children start out with very little iron in tissue and spend the first 6 - 10 years of life building it up. Iron demand during this period is tremendous. Kids have trouble getting enough iron to meet that demand, especially if they drink milk or eat dairy products.
Iron is an essential co-factor in the action of tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme in the production of dopamine. This helps to explain its role in muscle stiffness and hypertonias. It also goes some way to explaining why it fixed my sleep problems. I suspect bruxism has something to do with dopamine also.
Ferritin is not a very accurate indicator of iron status. It is not simply a proxy for iron storage, it is also an acute phase protein, so it is elevated in inflammation. This makes a proper assessment of iron status a whole lot more complicated than most doctors like to think. At the very least, the 30 ??g/L lower limit is probably way too low for somebody who has symptoms. I had a ferritin level which was initially considered well inside of normal (95 ??g/L) after repeated tests, and all the while my blood counts were repeatedly showing anemia. Because I am male, things had to get really bad before the doctor was comfortable prescribing iron replacement, at which point the anemia corrected pretty quickly. Let me just sum it up this way: most doctors think that blood count is the first thing to suffer when you are iron deficient. To my knowledge, there is no peer-reviewed, published evidence to support this assertion. Functioning blood is vital for survival, so the opposite is probably true.
The only pleasant way to find out what the iron picture in your body looks like is to measure
- serum iron, and
- total transferrin, or
- total iron-binding capacity.
This will tell you roughly how much iron you're getting from your diet and more importantly, whether your tissues are getting the iron they need to function. Tissues produce more transferrin when iron-starved, irrespective of the ferritin level. If TIBC or total transferrin are high, it is a sign that you are iron-starved. It is possible to have what looks like a normal ferritin, and still be iron-poor. This is especially true if you have an inflammatory condition, or if you are physically active.
(By the way: the unpleasant way, but the gold-standard for diagnosis, is a bone marrow biopsy. Yuck.)
Iron metabolism is very poorly understood. We used to think there wasn't much in the way of active regulatory mechanisms for iron, until a major, iron-regulating hormone (hepcidin) was discovered. In 2000. After everybody thought the book was closed on iron. That's how clueless we are about this. There are likely other transporter proteins and hormones which remain undiscovered. For this reason, I recommend being very skeptical of classical definitions of iron deficiency. If you remember nothing from what I've written here, remember this:
Iron deficiency is not the same thing as anemia, and not even the same thing as iron deficiency anemia.
Lastly, if you decide to treat: it is not easy. Iron replacement can cause all kinds of digestive havoc, ranging from constipation to diarrhea to stomach upset and nausea, especially at the beginning. It is difficult to absorb, so it's worth taking the time to find a formulation that works for you. (Eating meat certainly helps, but it was not enough for me.) The body does adapt. A good thing, too, because fixing this can take a really long time (up to a year in some cases). Some physicians treat with intravenous iron, but this hasn't been evaluated for safety or efficacy in large trials yet, so it is a controversial practice. Personally, I feel safer sticking with oral iron. At least then, the body can put some brakes on if it needs to.
on May 29, 2012
at 04:58 PM
I wear a mouthguard specifically for this reason. Doesn't prevent the clenching but does prevent the wear and tear on your teeth. And it's become very comforting to wear at night, like a soother!
on May 29, 2012
at 04:57 PM
I used to grind my teeth. I think removing gluten from my diet did the trick for me.
on May 29, 2012
at 04:40 PM
Yeah - I think relaxation is the key. Look at major sources of stress in your life and try to get rid of them. Stress is a big deal. A lot of us would be well served to make changes in our lives (drastic ones if needed) to reduce stress. It's vital. We often assume these stressors can't be eliminated/changed, but I think we'd be surprised at what kinds of changes are really possible. This should also results in better relationships with the people close to you. I definitely would not look at it as selfish.
I'd guess the clenching is your body telling you the same.
on May 29, 2012
at 06:54 PM
Might consider some physical therapy. I used to grind and clench my teeth. Not so much anymore. Could be a TMJ thing that could be easily corrected by a good therapist. And some conscious effort to keep the jaw, neck, shoulders, face relaxed won't hurt either.
on May 29, 2012
at 06:29 PM
I've had some thoughts about this recently. I, too, have a nightguard for clenching my teeth. I come from a long line of grinders. You could hear my dad grinding his teeth from down the hall (shudder).
My 2 1/2 year-old daughter also grinds her teeth mildly. Now, if stress is the cause, what on earth could be causing her to grind her teeth at such a tender age? Not to say they don't have stress, but it should all be within the realm of normal.
So my argument, without any data to support this, is that these behaviors may be perfectly normal to some degree. I do think it's exacerbated by stress.
I also know that serious, constant hard work with mindfulness practices and such can be helpful. But you can't slack off and it's a band-aid more than a cure. But it's one of the best band-aids that actually addresses the root cause rather than the symptom. If you can find room for it in your life, then go for it.
I did well on this front for many years but finally had to succumb to the guard. It's SEX-AY! Nothing like drooling all over your pillow to endear you to your partner.
on May 30, 2012
at 07:07 PM
When I started taking magnesium and vitamin K2, I stopped having this problem. I was talking Carlson's 5mg K2 capsule, and I had to switch to taking it in the morning because it seemed to be making my mouth drop open when I slept. I got a very dry mouth until I figured out what was causing it. I asked about this effect here, but no one else seems to have experienced it.
on May 30, 2012
at 06:03 PM
Some years ago, I suddenly found myself grinding my teeth as I was waking up in the mornings.
I was checked out for some digestion problems and was told that I had a parasite problem and that it could also be the cause of the teeth grinding. The lady that tested me asked me if I did any work on farms and I told her that I had been working on some farms (construction work). She told me that I probably got the parasite problem on one of the farms.
We got rid of the parasite problem and the grinding problem went away at the same time.
on May 29, 2012
at 05:51 PM
There are jaw exercises you can do for TMJ. Most if not all dentists will not be informed about this and will want to sell you a mouthguard. Although mouthguards work, I don't think they solve the problem. Stress is a part of life. So. Google exercises for TMJ, they are easy to do. This is the one I use: http://www.ehow.com/how_2352238_cure-tmj-jaw-exercises.html I did them every day for several days, now I do them intermittently. Your jaw will learn, with exercising, the correct alignment so you will need to do the exercises less.
on May 29, 2012
at 05:06 PM
me too, the guard helps for the grinding but not so much for the clenching.
I was also told when I notice I"m clenching during the day to put the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth, I guess this does something to help you release the muscles. I also try to do this at night while dosing off....it definitely helps me more than the guard.
I was told its a stress thing but its also a learned muscle thing, I don't often notice I'm doing it. (bite the bullet symdrome!)