Grinding your teeth is a common condition known as bruxism and has many possible causes. Bruxism affects people in the day time but more often in the night. People mostly discover they grind their teeth during the night when told by a sleeping partner. If you know you grind your teeth or suspect that you do, there are many ways to prevent teeth grinding.

How to stop teeth grinding at night

Finding a solution to your teeth grinding problem will depend on the cause. If you aren’t sure of the cause, trying different approaches might help aid some of the symptoms. Here are a variety of different treatments you can try:

1. Wear a mouthguard

Mouthguards and splints can be bought from a dentist or pharmacy. As they needed to be shaped to your teeth, you will need to go to your dentist to get your mouthpiece fitted. Mouthguards have a lower cost but only tend to last around a year. Splints can last for several years but are more expensive.

2. Exercise often

Exercising each day can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Taking long walks, going to the gym or joining exercise classes can make you feel more relaxed at the end of each day resulting in a peaceful night’s sleep.

3. Have a warm bath

Having a warm bath before bed will help you relax as soaking in warm water can alleviate muscle tension. Alternatively, you could apply a warm towel to your jaw to help relax specific muscles. Aside from grinding your teeth, having a bath before bedtime can also help you to sleep deeper, and is famously part of Arianna Huffington’s bedtime routine.

4. Meditation

Meditation for sleep will help you to clear your mind and feel stress-free. Taking time to unwind and get rid of any unwanted anxious feelings will help to prevent any jaw clenching throughout the night.

5. Massage your jaw

Much like a nice hot bath, a massage will alleviate any muscle tension allowing you to feel more relaxed. Rubbing your jaw and neck before you drift off at night can reduce teeth grinding. If you find you may have an uncomfortable pillow which is causing tension in your neck or jaw, perhaps look to purchase a new one.

6. Get into good habits

Establishing a stress-free night-time routine and being aware of your mouth and jaw throughout the day will help prevent teeth grinding. Your teeth should only touch when you’re swallowing or chewing. Being aware of your jaw tension will allow you to correct bad habits and behaviours.

Dr. Bobbi Stanley of Stanley Dentistry in North Carolina, America says that “unfortunately, with bruxism, it’s all unconscious. You don’t realise that you’re grinding your teeth at night so there’s no easy way to get yourself to just suddenly stop. In my experience, the only way to stop bruxism is to either treat the underlying cause or to get a bruxism night guard which holds your teeth in place and protects them.”

Why do people grind their teeth?

The most common reason for teeth grinding is stress or anxiety. Other factors linked to teeth grinding include smoking cigarettes, consuming lots of caffeine and alcohol, snoring and certain medications. There can also be some unique cases where bruxism affects people such as those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.

Another common cause of bruxism is having air-way issues. Dr. Bobbi Stanley said that “if it’s air-way related, treatment is a little more complicated. Sleep apnea patients frequently have bruxism for a variety of reasons, many of which have not been properly explored or explained. Some think that people with sleep apnea react to having their airflow cut off in the middle of the night by clenching their teeth.”

Who does bruxism affect?

Bruxism is classed as a sleep disorder that affects over 10 million adults in the UK. Children can also have bruxism and through research, it has been strongly associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s estimated that about 20% of children up to the age of 11 years have bruxism although this is probably underestimated as many parents do not notice the condition. If you suspect your child has bruxism or if your child is complaining of the symptoms related to teeth grinding, it is best to seek guidance from your local GP or dentist.

Symptoms and effects

Symptoms of bruxism can cause headaches, a sore jaw, stiffness of the neck and ear pain. If left untreated, teeth grinding could lead to fractured teeth and tooth loss. If you know you have bruxism, it’s important to talk to your doctor and dentist to avoid any long-term damage.

When should I seek medical advice?

Treating bruxism as early as possible is important to avoid future dental complications. Seeking guidance from a health professional will allow them to determine the cause and provide a treatment plan. Dr. Bobbi Stanley recommends that “if you or someone you know has symptoms, they need to go to the dentist immediately. Bruxism can cause irreversible damage to your teeth if left untreated for a long time. Get a mouthguard to protect your teeth first before trying to find the cause of your bruxism.”

Trying different techniques and evaluating what best works for you can help you to stop grinding your teeth. So whether that’s doing yoga, avoiding chewy foods or lighting some candles and having a bath, there will be something out there to ensure you have a clench free night.