Do you wake up with jaw or tooth pain? If so, you may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night. In the medical world, this is known as bruxism. When you go to bed stressed or anxious, you’re more likely to grind your teeth at night.
If left untreated, sleep bruxism can cause much more than sore teeth and jaw. It can permanently damage your teeth and jawbone.
Why people grind their teeth
Stress manifests itself in many ways. When you’re awake and stressed, you may have to remind yourself to breathe, to relax your shoulders, and to unclench your teeth. If you go to sleep stressed or worried, you’re more likely to grind or clench your teeth without knowing.
Aside from stress and anxiety, sleep bruxism may also be caused by:
- Crooked or missing teeth
- An abnormal bite (ie. overbite or underbite)
- Sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea
If you wake up with jaw pain, tooth pain, or wake up with headaches, chances are that you’re grinding your teeth at night.
Tooth grinding is harmful
While you may be able to live with dull pain in your teeth or jaw, bruxism has other unpleasant side effects. If left untreated, the condition can have a lasting impact on your oral health.
- Bruxism has been linked to:
- Increased tooth sensitivity due to worn enamel
- Loose teeth
- Chipped or fractured teeth
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ)
The good news is that there are many ways to treat nighttime grinding so protect your teeth and jaw.
How to treat nighttime teeth grinding
Looking for ways to treat bruxism at home? You’re in luck. Here are some of the most effective ways to protect your oral health while you’re snoozing.
Relax before bedtime
Most people clench or grind their teeth due to stress and anxiety. Ease your mind and body before bedtime by incorporating relaxation into your nightly routine. Things like guided imagery, meditation, breathing exercises, and calming music can help to ease worries and relieve stress.
A little relaxation can go a long way!
Improve your sleep hygiene
Relaxation techniques aren’t fully effective unless you practice good sleep hygiene. To improve your bedtime routine:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
- Avoid blue light for 60-90 minutes before bedtime
- Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol within 2-4 hours of going to sleep
With these simple changes, you can prepare your mind and body for amazing rest by keeping your circadian rhythm in check.
Try cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
There’s a direct correlation between chronic stress and teeth grinding. Cognitive behavioral therapy has shown to be effective in treating insomnia as well as stress and anxiety. By treating the causes of bruxism, you’re indirectly treating the condition.
CBT includes self-reflection and journaling to help patients with stressful and negative thinking. It teaches healthy and productive coping mechanisms.
Life can be stressful and overwhelming at times, but don’t let it impact your oral health! If you grind or clench your teeth at night, try these methods so that you get the quality, stress-free rest that you deserve.