How to Handle “Awake Bruxism”

We can officially mark “awake bruxism” as another term I’d never heard of until I got aligners! However, most of you may be familiar with its other name: teeth grinding.

Yes, that awful habit is something you need to be extra mindful of, especially when you have aligners. Though sleep bruxism is common, there’s a lot to learn about its waking counterpart. Here’s what you should know about awake bruxism and how to deal with it effectively.

Symptoms of Awake Bruxism

What is awake bruxism exactly? It’s when you unconsciously clench your teeth during your awakened state. Sure, you may clench your teeth every now and then. Maybe something is stressing you out, or you’re dealing with some anxiety.

However, awake bruxism can cause some real issues if you aren’t careful. If any of the following symptoms occur, you may be dealing with awake bruxism:

  • Loud teeth grinding or clenching that others can hear
  • Increased tooth pain/sensitivity
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose
  • Jaw, neck/face pain, or soreness
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles (or even a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely)
  • Dull headache in your temples
  • Pain that resembles an earache
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, let’s look at how you can battle this bad habit.

How to Deal

First, it’s important that you become aware of the issue since there’s a good chance that it’ll crack the aligners. (In my case, it did. Oops!)

Since no one wants this to happen, here are some things I’ve done that have helped, that may help you, too:

  • Consciously unclench your jaw – One way to do this is to set a timer to remind yourself
  • Play a game of light tapping your teeth together to stop you from biting down when you’re focusing (which has been my big issue)
  • Put the tip of your tongue between your front teeth just enough to deter you from chomping down
  • Stress and anxiety management, such as meditations, yoga, or other relaxation techniques
  • Avoiding caffeine intake too late in the day since this can exacerbate anxious feelings
  • Scheduling regular dental exams and speaking with a professional

Easing Your Aligner Journey

My own aligner journey has been an enlightening experience, and I hope more than anything that it’s helped others on their journeys as well. Especially in the case of awake bruxism, we can tackle this beast together!

If you’re anywhere near the Chantilly, VA area, check out Orthodontics by Crutchfield for all of your smile-straightening needs. And be sure to stay tuned for the next part of this blog series!