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Stop the grind – How to reduce nighttime teeth grinding

Posted on May 23rd, 2023

Most people know that clenching or grinding their teeth is a bad habit. But few people know how to stop it, especially when they do it while they sleep. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can lead to all sorts of problems, including…

  • Tooth decay, chipping, cracking, or sensitivity
  • Gum recession
  • Jaw pain
  • Morning headaches
  • Disrupted sleep 

Below, you’ll learn more about the causes of nighttime teeth grinding and how you can stop the grind for good.

What causes nighttime teeth grinding?

The most common reasons for nighttime teeth grinding are stress and anxiety. When people are under pressure, their bodies respond by clenching their jaw and grinding their teeth. 

This is a natural defense mechanism intended to help you stay alert and ready to defend yourself if needed. Unfortunately, this behavior can become a habit. And if the habit isn’t addressed, it can cause long-term damage.

Having an abnormal bite or missing teeth can also lead to nighttime teeth grinding. Teeth that don’t align properly may cause a person’s jaw to move in a way that leads to grinding. 

Additionally, if people snore or have sleep apnea, they may be more likely to grind or clench their teeth at night. 

Other factors that may lead to bruxism include…

  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants 
  • Lifestyle choices, including alcohol consumption, smoking, and caffeine intake 
  • Medical conditions, like Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and gastroesophageal disease (GERD) 

What are the effects of teeth grinding?

Chronic teeth grinding can negatively impact your oral health in the following ways…

Teeth damage – Teeth grinding can wear down the enamel on teeth. This can lead to chipping, cracking, and tooth loss. 

Teeth sensitivity – When teeth grinding occurs, the teeth can become sensitive to hot and cold. And when a person bites into certain foods, they may wince. 

Jaw pain and headaches – The repetitive motion of teeth grinding can cause discomfort and pain in the jaw joint. This can lead to headaches, earaches, and other facial pain. 

TMJ disorders – Teeth grinding can contribute to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which can cause…

  • Jaw pain and stiffness
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Clicking or popping noises when chewing

Gum recession – The pressure from teeth grinding can also cause the gums to recede, which can lead to…

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Root damage
  • Tooth loss

How to stop grinding your teeth at night

The first step to stop teeth grinding is to identify and address the underlying causes of any stress or anxiety. For example, if you’re under a lot of pressure at work, try exercising or listening to soothing music to reduce your stress levels. If lifestyle habits, like smoking or drinking, are causing your teeth to grind, try to cut back or quit altogether.

You should also practice good sleep hygiene. Make sure to get enough sleep each night and have a bedtime routine that helps you relax. If physical or medical conditions cause your teeth to grind, speak to your doctor about your treatment options.

In addition to addressing the underlying causes, you can use a mouth guard at night to prevent further damage. A mouth guard protects the teeth from the grinding force. Plus, it helps you become aware of when you’re grinding so you can make a concerted effort to stop.

Finally, you can practice relaxation techniques, like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing, to reduce stress levels and help you relax before bed. Take time to practice self-care each day to manage your anxiety and reduce your stress.

By addressing the underlying causes of your teeth grinding and reducing your stress levels, you can help stop the grind for good. With a little effort, you can protect your teeth from further damage and get back to enjoying your life without pain or discomfort.

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website:

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