How to Stop Grinding Teeth at Night

Grinding your teeth at night, also called bruxism, is a common problem. It can lead to all kinds of nasty things like headaches, tooth or jaw pain, damaged teeth, and disrupted sleep. If you’re a tooth-grinder, then naturally you’ll want to stop. Luckily, this is a lot easier than you might think! The main reason for grinding is tension in your jaws, which can have a few different causes. You can get started releasing that tension right now!

Method1
Jaw Relaxation

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    Hold a warm, moist compress against your jaw before bed. Soak a towel or washcloth in warm water, wring it out, and hold it against both sides of your jaw for a few minutes. The warmth helps your muscles loosen and can reduce clenching at night.[1]
    • A dry compress will also work, but moist heat relaxes your muscles better.
    • If you prefer, you can also take a warm bath or shower. This has a similar effect, and it also helps you relax before bed.
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    Relax your face and jaw during the day when you feel tense. It’s normal to clench your jaw and neck muscles if you’re stressed during the day. Unfortunately, this tenses your muscles and makes you grind at night. Make an effort to keep your jaw muscles loose and relaxed during the day. If you feel yourself getting stressed, remind yourself to unclench your jaw.[2]
    • It’s helpful to set a regular reminder, like every hour, to relax your jaw. This can help break your clenching habit.
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    Practice simple mouth exercises to stretch your jaw. A few exercises can stretch and relax your jaw muscles. This can cut down on your grinding at night. Try these 2 simple exercises each day:[3]
    • Close your lips and keep your teeth apart. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth, without touching your teeth, and hold it there for as long as you can. This exercise loosens your jaw muscles and can prevent you from clenching at night.
    • Put your hands on your jaw joint, right in front of your ears. Slowly open your mouth and hold it open for 5-10 seconds before slowly closing it. Practice this for 10 minutes at a time, 3 times a day to stretch out your jaw.
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    Keep your teeth apart during the day. Your top and bottom teeth should only touch when you’re chewing or swallowing. Any other time, they should be just barely touching or not touching at all. You may have a habit of keeping your teeth pressed together during the day, so make a conscious effort to keep some space between your teeth all day.[4]
    • Whenever you feel your teeth touch together when you aren’t eating, relax and pull them back apart.
    • If you need a reminder, try resting your tongue between your teeth as a slight cushion. This prevents them from clamping together.
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    Eat soft foods so your jaw doesn’t tense up. If you always eat hard or chewy foods, you’ll have to work your jaws hard to chew it all up. This makes your jaw muscles tense up. Try switching to softer foods instead so your jaws can relax.[5]
    • Foods that usually cause problems include tough meat, crunchy or chewy bread, hard fruits like apples, and gum. Switch to yogurt, eggs, soup, stew, or steamed vegetables instead.
    • Eating soft foods also helps if your jaw is sore from grinding at night.
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    Avoid chewing on non-food items as a habit. You might chew on the back of your pen or ice cubes as a habit. This keeps your jaw muscles tense and could make you grind more at night. If you do have this habit, do your best to stop so your jaw can relax.[6]
    • Chewing on non-food items can also damage your teeth. You don't want any chips or cracks, so it’s best to break this habit.

Method2
Medical Approaches

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    Wear a mouth guard at night to cushion your teeth. This doesn’t actually stop you from grinding your teeth, but it’s important for protecting your teeth and jaw. A mouth guard is made of soft plastic that will cushion your teeth and jaw when you grind at night. Your dentist can make a custom one to fit your mouth, so make an appointment and speak to them about it.[7]
    • You can also get a non-custom mouth guard from a pharmacy or medical supply store. However, this probably won’t fit as well as a custom one.
    • The dentist might even recommend that you wear your guard during the day if you often clench your jaw, although it can be difficult to speak when you're wearing a guard.[8]
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    Get a head and neck massage to relax your jaw. A physical therapist or massage therapist can rub around your jaw and loosen up and tense muscles that might be causing your problems. Try booking an appointment with one of these professionals to see if this helps.[9]
    • You could also massage any sore spots around your neck, jaw, and head on your own. This might not work quite as well as a professional massage, but it will definitely be soothing.[10]
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    Ask your doctor for new antidepressants if yours make you grind. These medications, particularly SSRIs, could trigger grinding at night. Common culprits include paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline. If you take antidepressants and grind your teeth often, talk to your doctor to see if they can switch you to a different medication.[11]
    • Never stop taking any medication without your doctor’s orders. This can have more risks than benefits, so always check with your doctor first.
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    Take muscle-relaxing medications before bed. For more serious cases, your doctor might prescribe muscle relaxers to treat your grinding. These medications loosen your muscles and can prevent your jaw from tensing at night. Take this medication exactly the way your doctor tells you to.[12]
    • Your doctor will probably only prescribe medication on a short-term basis, so it’s important to take other steps too, like reducing stress and relaxing your jaw muscles.

Method3
Habits to Relieve Grinding

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    Reduce stress so your muscles relax. Consistent stress is one of the main risk factors for grinding at night. If you regularly feel stressed, then taking some stress-reduction steps can really cut down on your grinding habit.[13]
    • Stress management techniques like exercising, meditating, acupuncture, or attending counseling can all have great benefits for grinding.[14]
    • You could even be stressed without realizing it. It always pays off to take some stress-reduction steps in your daily life, even if you don’t feel stressed.
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    Get plenty of sleep at night. Not getting enough sleep can make your grinding worse, so it’s important to get a good-night’s sleep each day.[15] In general, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep for a full-night’s rest, so do your best to stay in that range.[16]
    • If you have a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea, get treatment for it as soon as you can. Grinding usually comes along with sleep disorders like this.
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    Follow a calming bedtime routine. Bringing stress to bed with you can make you grind your teeth at night. Practice good sleep hygiene and do relaxing things before bed. This can help relax your muscles and reduce grinding.[17]
    • Turn off electronics before bed. The light from phones, TVs, and computers can stimulate your brain instead of relax you.
    • Good relaxing activities to do instead include reading, listening to soft music, stretching, meditating, or taking a shower.
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    Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening. Both of these can stimulate your muscles and cause grinding. Avoid any coffee, caffeinated tea, or alcoholic drinks in the afternoon, and definitely after dinner time.[18]
    • Herbal tea, however, is caffeine-free and can help you relax at night.
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    Get some exercise during the day. Exercise is a great stress-reducer, and tends to improve grinding at night. If you aren’t very active, then this might be the right change for you. Try to get about 2.5 hours of exercise each week for the best results.[19]
    • You don’t have to exercise hard to enjoy good results. Just a daily walk is great for your health and stress levels.
    • Besides going to the gym, you could also play sports like baseball or basketball for a more fun exercise.
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    Quit smoking or using recreational drugs. Nicotine and some drugs are stimulants, and they’ll make grinding at night worse. If you smoke or use any drugs, it’s best to quit as soon as possible. If you don’t smoke or use drugs, then avoid starting in the first place.[20]
    • Smoking has all kinds of other negative health effects too, so quitting is the best choice.
    • Drugs like cocaine or Ecstacy are especially bad for teeth-grinding.

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