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Grinding teeth

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Spikeh, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Not sure if this is a post for technique, but it's certainly got something to do with it!

    I'm sat at work this morning, and my jaw is killing me. Every time I play my bass (learning new songs, playing complex / fast / rocking basslines) or even sometimes when I know the bassline off by heart and can play it without looking at either of my hands, I press my back teeth together really hard. When I realise I'm doing it, I let off... but it happens all the time!

    It's only started happening since I've been playing about 4 hours every day... and my jaw's suffering ;P

    Is it a relaxation problem? Does anyone get it? I don't do it when I'm doing ANYTHING else! Any hints if anyone's got the same problem?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Yes, this is stress-related (bruxism). A dentist will make you a night guard, plastic braces that will prevent your teeth from touching each other. I'm not sure if it's covered by health insurance in the UK.
  3. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    I'm only doing it while playing - not during sleep or anything else. I realise I'm doing it, and I stop... but I just wondered if I was doing something wrong? Concentrating too hard? Playing too much? I'm practicing 4 hours a night at the moment and jamming all the time... trying to get good enough for a gig / join another band.

    Health insurance is optional in England - we have the NHS that generally pays for all doctors and hospital treatment... but unfortunately, not dentistry (if you work full time like me). So no, if I wanted one, it'd cost me an arm and a leg :|

    I just wondered if anyone else has had it (just while playing) and what they did / do about it?
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I bang my teeth when I play without a drummer at home. Not quite the same but a bad habit nonetheless. The night guard I think won't help because even though it keeps you from touching your teeth together, you're still stressing out the jaw. All you can really do is force yourself to notice it and stop it.
  5. Are your shoulders relaxed? The shoulder and jaw are linked. I have a bit of the same problem since I often use the muscles in the side of my neck to lift my arm and shoulder, which I shouldn't. The neck muscles should be relaxed and the shoulder down and back and not cramped up towards the neck. Maybe it's something like that. In that case it is a physiotherapist who could help you.
  6. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Hmm... I'm not sure about my shoulders... I'll find out tonight (having a jam with the full band) and let you know.

    I know that my old guitarist kept feeling my forearm when I said my arms were aching after long stretches / little horrizontal fretboard movement for long periods, and he said I was tense and should relax. I do need to losen up, but I've conciously tried (even when on my own) and I just seem to naturally go like that!

    I am noticing the jaw more, hence the post - I'll try to keep an eye on it and stop myself. Though I tell you... it's aching like mad today and I only played for about 2 hours last night!
  7. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    I've had this problem off and on for the past 20 years. It is almost always associated with stress -- not necessarily negative stress, but just doing an excessive amount of mental work. There really isn't much you can do that I know to prevent it except relax. Meditation, yoga, and some time off are all useful. But before you do that, cut off alcohol, nicotine and cut down on your coffee and tea. Alcohol especially adds to physical tension in the period from 7 to about 35 hours after consumption (I've heard it's the byproducts that the liver produces in detoxification).
  8. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Hmm... well, playing the bass so much has co-incided with me drinking LESS alcohol (less time in the pub) probably, but smoking weed... I never used to, but I do it regularly now when we practice.

    I noticed gritting my teeth a few times last night, but it wasn't so bad... I was trying to sing, and watch the new guitarists I was auditioning anyway... so less time thinking about what I was actually doing on my bass!

    I suppose I'll just have to realise I'm doing it and stop myself :|
  9. I do a version of this too, but I only clinch my lips together real tight.
    Annoying and I try not to (specially gigging) but I do it anyways.

    I'm starting to come to terms with it though:
    Everybody needs a warface - mine just happens to be ugly. ;)

  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I think this one falls under practice/technique...along with a pile of other bad habits that are easy to pick up but hard to shed.

    I find that I do occasionally clench my jaw while practicing, or similarly, don't breath regularly/calmly while playing...once you notice that you're doing this kind of thing, you need to make a concerted, prolonged effort to replace the bad habit with good playing habits.

    It may take a few months of positive reinforcement to stop doing this, but when you practice you should keep your mind on not only the playing but all the other physical aspects of yourself and keep reminding yourself to correct this...
  11. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    That's exactly what I'm doing... I'm very concious of it now and always try to make sure I'm not doing it when playing!

    I'm at the stage where I can usually play most songs without thinking about the fretboard now... when I get used to them now, so I can concentrate on singing or NOT clenching my teeth!
  12. dirtgroove


    Jan 10, 2003
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I've gone through phases where tension builds up in various parts of my body. I had to really conncentrate on taking regular deep breaths whilst practicing- start with slow simple stuff, and focus on calm deep breathing- it really works for me, and seriously helps my playing.
    Just out of interest, do you get enough sleep at night?
    Clenching your jaws may well be a sign of exhaustion.
  13. Daytona955i


    Feb 17, 2005
    Albany, NY
    I find myself doing this a lot too, I think it's just the thing I do when I try to concentrate too much, like playing an important part/show or writing a paper that is due by midnight. :p