Would you like to know how to stop grinding teeth in sleep naturally?
Sleep bruxism is much more common than you think, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the symptoms if you begin to experience them. While tooth grinding can seem like a pretty harmless if slightly annoying involuntary habit, it can lead to a number of oral and general health problem that are much better avoided.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to recognise the signs of sleep bruxism, what causes it, and how to make it stop.
Know the signs and symptoms of teeth grinding
What are the signs of nighttime teeth grinding that you should be looking out for?
If you are married or in a relationship, chances are your spouse or partner is going to tell you if they hear you grinding your teeth in your sleep. But if you are on your own, your symptoms are likely to be your best informants.
Chronic ear pain and headache
If you are suffering from pressure headaches or ear aches that are not connected to an infection, it may well be because you grind your teeth at night.
When you clench and grind your teeth, sometimes for hours at a time, the tension spreads from your jaw to the rest of the skull where it is felt like an unpleasant pressure.
Enlarged facial muscles
Did you know that teeth grinding can cause enlarged facial muscles, and thus changes to your appearance?
If you overuse a particular muscle, in this case your jaw muscles, they will strengthen and grow, just like any other muscle would if it were in constant use. More prominent jaw muscles can drastically alter your appearance, in ways you had not foreseen or wanted.
Sore jaw muscles
If you find yourself waking up with sore jaw muscles on a regular basis and there is no other obvious explanation, aching jaw muscles or jaw pain could be a sign of nighttime teeth grinding.
In extreme cases, nighttime bruxism can lead to TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorder.
The temporomandibular joint is located in your jaw, and if it is constantly under extreme pressure, this can damage the joint.
Worn or damaged upper and lower teeth
Have you notice signs of excessive wear and tear on your upper and lower teeth, particularly the ones at the back of your mouth? If so, your worn-down teeth could be an indication that you are grinding your teeth in your sleep.
In some cases, teeth grinding doesn’t just wear down your teeth enamel, it can cause your teeth to chip or even split right down the middle.
Are your teeth going crooked for no explicable reason?
Bucked or crooked teeth may be a sign of adult teeth grinding. If you grind your teeth at night, you are putting them under quite a lot of near-constant pressure. Firm pressure is what is used to straighten teeth when you wear braces, but pressure that is uncontrolled can lead to severely bucked or misaligned teeth.
What causes sleep bruxism?
What is the cause for nighttime teeth grinding?
Annoyingly, there is no simple answer to this question. Instead of one clear cause, there are many potential and often overlapping causes that can conspire to make you grind your teeth.
Here are some of the top causes of night bruxism:
Are your teeth crooked or misaligned?
An abnormal bite can sometimes be to blame for your grinding habit.
Stress and anxiety
The negative effects stress and anxiety can have on the human body cannot be overstated. If your stress levels are high, it affects every aspect of your health. Causing teeth grinding is just one example.
Stress and anxiety make your entire body tense up, even when you are asleep.
Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
If you suffer from sleep apnea, snoring, or any other sleep disorder, this could be the cause of your teeth grinding.
If this is the case for you, addressing the underlying issue – the sleep disorder – can also be what stops the teeth grinding.
Some medications come with teeth grinding as an unwanted side effect. The medications that are particularly known to cause nighttime teeth grinding are antipsychotics and antidepressants.
If you overconsume stimulants, your body will find it difficult to relax. Overdoing alcohol, drugs or even just caffeine can fill your body with so much energy and tension that it make you grind your teeth in your sleep.
How to stop or prevent teeth grinding
So, how do you stop your teeth grinding, and preferably without the help of medical intervention? Here are our top suggestions.
Try these stress reduction techniques
The first thing you should try to do if you are grinding your teeth at night and your stress levels are high is to bring your anxiety under control.
The most important time to wind down is just before you go to sleep. Think about how you can establish a more relaxing evening routine, one that sets you up for a restful night’s sleep. A few ideas you may want to try include not looking at the news for a few hours before bedtime, meditating, soaking in a warm bath, drinking herbal tea, or reading yourself to sleep.
Try these home remedies to help you relax:
- Herbal tea (relaxes your body and mind)
- Warm green tea or chamomile tea (help your body and mind to unwind)
- Turmeric milk (promotes sound sleep and has anti-inflammatory properties)
- Muscle stretching exercises (help your facial muscles and nervous system relax)
Get a mouth guard
A mouthguard can be used to absorb some of the pressure of teeth grinding by acting as a barrier between your upper and lower teeth. When you wear it in your sleep, it’ll prevent your teeth from grinding against each other, which is what wears down the enamel and can cause chipping and fracturing.
It is possible to order boil and bite night guards online, but getting your dentist to custom make you one is usually a better option.
Get an occlusal splint
An occlusal sprint is a simpler alternative for those who do not need or want a full-on mouthguard. While mouthguard are effective, they can also feel clunky in your mouth and be rather difficult to get used to wearing.
A generic occlusal splint can be purchased from a drug store, but you should preferably get one custom made by your dentist.
If you are grinding your teeth at night, it may be time to review the medications you are taking. Teeth grinding is relatively common side-effect of many medications, including most antidepressants and antipsychotics.
If it turns out that any of the medications you are on may be to blame for your teeth grinding, talk to your doctor about trying a different medication instead.
How to reduce pain from teeth grinding
While you are searching for the best ways to stop yourself from grinding your teeth at night, here are some ideas for how you can reduce pain and discomfort related to teeth grinding.
Avoid chewing sticky foods
Chewing sticky, sinewy or otherwise chewy foods can exacerbate any jaw pain you may already be dealing with.
Top foods to avoid include stringy meats, jerky, toffees, liquorice and chewy candy, and thick bread.
Try a warm compress or ice pack
A warm compress or an ice pack can help alleviate sore and overworked jaw muscles.
Taking over the counter painkillers is a good solution to pain management in the short term.
Frequently asked questions
Why do people grind their teeth while sleeping?
There are all sorts of reasons why someone may grind their teeth while sleeping.
Possible explanations and contributing factors include stress and anxiety, suffering from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, being overstimulated due to an excessive intake of caffeine, alcohol, drugs or other stimulants, or taking certain medications such as antidepressants or antipsychotics.
Can you naturally stop teeth grinding?
Yes, but stopping yourself from grinding your teeth usually takes some doing. You may have to try a few different approaches before you find the one that works best for you.
The first thing you should try is to lower your stress and anxiety levels. If these are high, your body is going to tense up, even in your sleep. There are lots of different approaches you could take to managing your anxiety, from meditating to establishing a calming evening routine.
Another natural approach you can take is to get a custom mouth guard. When you wear a mouthguard at night, it’ll absorb much of the pressure and friction that your teeth are otherwise being subjected to.