There are many ways that stress can impact your life. Some of them are readily apparent while others are not so easy to detect. If you clench your jaw often, though, and you know that you are doing it in situations that you find stressful, then it may be time to make some changes. This article will address how to stop clenching your jaw from stress as well as the potential harm it can cause if you don’t.
Why Do You Clench Your Jaw From Stress?
People often clench their jaw or grind their teeth when there is stress in their life. It's not known precisely what the connection is between the two, but jaw clenching and teeth grinding are only a couple of the numerous different ways that the body can conceivably react to stressful situations. If you clench your jaw from anxiety, then you may damage your teeth in the long run. You could also give yourself headaches, and your jaw can start aching nonstop.
The conventional thinking is that if you're clenching your jaw from stress or manifesting various other symptoms, then you'll need to change whatever aspects of your life are causing you to do so. Let's explore various ways to make these changes in your life.
Is Work A Source Of Stress In Your Life?
One thing to do when you're trying to remove stress from your life is to determine precisely what is causing your feelings of worry or anxiety. One of the more prevalent sources of stress for people are their jobs.
If this sounds like your situation, you might need to figure out another way to support your family. If you work full-time, that means you're spending a lot of your waking hours at work. If you dislike your job, that can contribute to additional workplace stress. Think about what it is that you would prefer to be doing. Then, consider the possible impediments to doing it and how to overcome them.
If you need more education to obtain an alternate job, then think about going to college or trade school. If you must take out a loan, consider doing it. You're investing in your future, which could make the idea more palatable.
What If Your Family Or Relationships Are A Problem?
If family or relationships are the source of the issue, then you may need to address whatever it is that's causing you stress. In many cases, you could be stressed because of lack of communication about whatever it is that's bothering you. You may be keeping your feelings locked up inside, and there are few better ways to cause yourself stress or worry. Alternatively, you might be arguing with whomever it is that's causing you stress. Maybe you have made an honest declaration of your feelings and needs, but the issues are still ongoing.
Whatever the case may be, you could consider going to couples or family counseling if you can't work out some solutions on your own. You might feel better about opening up when you know that you are in a safe space with a trained therapist there to act as the intermediary. You may be able to bring new ways of thinking and behaving into the relationship. If the relationship is not salvageable, then you might consider breaking things off.
Other Possible Causes Of Stress
You might also feel stressed and be clenching your jaw because of things like concern for what is happening in the nation or around the world. There are ongoing issues like global climate change or politics that can potentially stress and/or depress some people.
Everyone feels a bit worried about the future sometimes. It’s natural to have concerns both for your children, if you have any, and for yourself. Some of the problems that America and the world face are cause for legitimate concern. Talking to a therapist about your feelings could be helpful.
What Are Some Other Possible Solutions?
There are some other things that you can do if grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw is something ongoing for you. For instance, if you can tell that you're grinding your teeth at night, then you can wear a night guard. You will want to speak to your dentist about getting outfitted with a custom-made one. A night guard is an appliance, usually made of acrylic or plastic, that fits over your teeth. Other appliances can be worn at specific points during the day if you know that you tend to clench your jaw during your morning commute or at other stressful times. If your insurance does not cover a custom dental guard, many stores and pharmacies carry more generic ones that can still help.
Exercise Can Be Helpful
Another way that you can alleviate some stress is by exercising. Exercising is a way for you to burn calories and get yourself in better shape, but it also works as a way for your body to reset itself. It's hard to worry about much else when you're jogging or lifting weights. This practice can help you forget about whatever it is that's troubling you for a while.
Try To Learn New Habits
You may also want to be mindful of jaw clenching throughout the day. Try to identify the times when you are stressed and resultantly clench your jaw. Then, give yourself a little massage or allow the muscles to all go loose. Once you feel that all the tension has gone out of your jaws, then try to hold them in that position. Remember that the only time that your teeth should be coming together with any force is when you are chewing. If they're doing so at any other time, then you might benefit from making a conscious effort to relax your jaw.
Take A Warm Bath
After your workday is done, you can pamper yourself by taking a warm bath. This is an inexpensive way for you to reduce any tension or stress that has built up during the day. You can intentionally relax your jaw as well as all your other muscles while in the bath. This can double as your alone time when you can reflect on the day. You can light some scented candles, burn some essential oils for aromatherapy, and put on some calming music. This can become a ritual to cherish.
Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol
Too much caffeine or alcohol can cause you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth. To remedy this, you might consider avoiding them altogether or use them sparingly. Skip that extra cup of coffee in the afternoon or that glass of wine in the evening. It might seem like a harmless indulgence, but it could be contributing to your feelings of tension rather than alleviating them. If you'd like, you can try a warm cup of noncaffeinated tea instead.
Talk To Someone About Your Stress
You can also reach out to a qualified mental health professional if you want to talk about some other ways to reduce the stress in your life.
One of these potential solutions is therapy.
If you’re experiencing stress, though, it’s likely that you also have a busy schedule. This can make attending in-person therapy sessions challenging. Online therapy doesn’t require a commute, though. Instead, it can be accessed from the comfort of your home. Scheduling options also tend to be more flexible since appointments are available around the clock.
Online therapy is also research-backed. In fact, a recent review looked at just how effective eHealth can be in supporting your general well-being. The publication studies virtual mindfulness and relaxation techniques in patients with medical conditions. One of those techniques included talking to a therapist remotely. The 17 studies, ranging from 1990-2015, indicated that eHealth mindfulness and relaxation techniques can, in fact, have positive effects on patients’ overall health in addition to their psychological well-being.
Plenty of folks have already given BetterHelp a chance. Here are some of their reviews about their counselors:
“Miss Tangela is a great counselor. This was my first time in therapy of any kind. I was very nervous and she helped me get through my anxiety and really helped me work through a low point in my life. She always made me feel heard and like she truly cares about my mental health. She has helped me develop great coping strategies and new techniques to help with my anxiety and depression. I would recommend Miss Tangela to anyone and everyone.”
“I've been working with Jennifer Evans for a few months now dealing with anxiety related issues and addressing long-standing negative coping mechanisms. I've made amazing progress in identifying underlying issues and establishing techniques to overcome my anxiety. Jennifer uses a variety of methods and tailors therapy based on feedback. She is quick to respond, is extremely caring and always insightful. I truly believe she has been integral to the progress I’ve made in a fairly short amount of time. I highly recommend this therapist and am encouraged by how effective online therapy can be.” Read more about Jennifer Evans.
Why do I clench my jaw when stressed?
Stress can lead to a number of physical responses in your body, including muscle tension. One of the most common areas where such tension occurs is in the jaw muscles.
How can I train myself to stop clenching my jaw?
One of the first ways to stop excessive jaw clenching and prevent sore facial muscles, crooked teeth, jaw pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, sleep disorders like sleep apnea, and other jaw clenching symptoms is to recognize when jaw clenching is happening. Set a reminder on your phone to check in on your jaw several times a day. If you realize that you are clenching your jaw, take a moment to record how you are feeling and what is happening in your life. You may start noticing patterns, such as clenching your jaw during a certain meeting at work. Recognizing what prompts jaw clenching can be the first step towards changing this habit.
Will I ever stop clenching my jaw?
It is possible to break the habit of clenching your jaw. You can work with your dentist to learn how to hold your jaw properly, with your upper teeth, lower teeth, and tongue aligned in a way that reduces pressure on your jaw. If you clench your jaw at night while you are asleep, the most effective jaw-clenching treatment for you might be a mouthguard. Since jaw clenching and a sore jaw can be directly related to stress, stress relief techniques may also help.
How can I relax my face?
One method of relaxing your face is known as “slack jaw.” As opposed to manual jaw opening, where you consciously part your teeth, with slack jaw, you relax all jaw muscles and allow your mouth to hang open for a period of time. Slack jaw can also be a form of jaw joint stretch.
How do you release tension from a jaw massage?
Jaw massages typically do not cause tension, but rather relieve it.
How do I stop clenching my jaw without a mouth guard?
Mouth guards can be effective at preventing unconscious jaw clenching that typically occurs while one is asleep, but there are a number of other ways you can treat jaw clenching. Giving yourself a facial massage can help loosen up your jaw muscles. You can also literally warm up your muscles by applying a warm compress to your jaw area, or sipping warm herbal tea. Stress relief techniques like journaling, meditating, and practicing yoga have shown some additional promise in reducing jaw tension.
How do I stop clenching all the time?
If you feel as though you are constantly clenching your jaw, it may be wise to speak to a medical professional about the situation. A dentist can work with you on treatment options, which may include realigning your resting facial muscles or wearing a mouth guard at night. If your jaw clenching stems from stress, a common experience for many, it could be beneficial to speak with a therapist about sources of stress in your life and stress management practices.
How long can jaw tension last?
Jaw tension can persist for a significant amount of time and lead to a number of mouth problems, including gum and cheek abrasions and chipped upper front teeth.
Is it OK to massage your jaw?
Yes. In fact, giving yourself a jaw massage can help to relieve muscle tension and prevent jaw clenching.
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