Don’t like wearing a mouth guard at night to curb teeth grinding? Various alternative treatments can help.

If you experience nighttime teeth grinding, or bruxism, the primary treatment is to get fitted by your dentist for a mouth guard to wear while you sleep. But many people are uncomfortable wearing a mouth guard at night. It can keep you up at night, leading to a different set of problems. For this reason, many people with nighttime teeth grinding seek out alternative treatments for the condition.


Alternative Treatments at the Dentist’s Office

Some prescription medications have been tried with some success for preventing nighttime teeth grinding. However, Aurelio Alonso, DDS, PhD, an assistant professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, says that these medications are usually just temporary measures to provide relief, and problems can arise if they are used for long periods of time. “Medications such as anxiolytics, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants are helpful,” he says. “However, side effects and the risk of dependence from some of the medications can be an issue.”

Another recent medical treatment for nighttime teeth grinding is a Botox injection, but here again, the relief may only be short-lived. “For patients that cannot or will not wear a mouth guard or for a person in a time of acute pain, some practitioners will inject medicine such as Botox in the jaw joint area to relieve pain,” says Steve Krendl, DDS, of Hopewell Dental Care in New Jersey. “This, however, must be repeated as the Botox effects wear off.”


Alternative Treatments for Teeth Grinding: Behavioral Options

Considering the short-term benefits of medications for nighttime teeth grinding, many people have explored other types of alternative treatments. Karyn Kahn, DDS, a dentist with the Cleveland Clinic, says that such treatments may be helpful for some people. “Alternative management therapy includes physical therapy, biofeedback, acupuncture, stress reduction therapy, and yoga,” she explains. “Self-awareness programs and instructions from dentists can also help patients recognize daytime clenching and bracing and any additional habits that result in jaw muscle contraction.”


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