How to Stop Teeth Grinding: 11 Natural Remedies

If you wake up with pain in your jaw, if your tooth enamel is gradually wearing away, or if you suffer from regular headaches or earache, you may be grinding your teeth at night. Somewhere between 10-15% of all adults grind their teeth at night. Doing so regularly can create long-term issues for your oral health.

There are a number of ways to treat teeth grinding medically. Some examples of medication that a doctor may prescribe include:

  • Anxiety Medication – anxiety is often an underlying condition that leads to teeth grinding.
  • Muscle Relaxers – this will prevent your muscles from tensing up at night time.
  • Botox – a more extreme measure that helps with teeth grinding in some cases.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition that leads to the consistent grinding of teeth, usually at nighttime. Over prolonged periods of time, bruxism can wear down enamel, crowns, and gums. It can also lead to more serious issues such as jaw pain and temporomandibular disorders (TMJ Syndrome).

If your dentist has told you that you grind your teeth at night, it’s important to take steps to address it so you can protect your teeth from more serious problems down the road.

11 Ways to Stop Grinding Your Teeth

1. Mindfulness Training to Increase Awareness

The first step to fixing any problem is to notice when it happens. Take some time during your day to notice if your jaw muscles are tight. When you notice it, simply take the effort to relax the muscles and release that tension.

Getting into the habit of noticing what you’re doing while awake and slowly eliminating the habit of tensing your jaw muscles will impact how your subconscious mind operates while you’re sleeping.

2. Meditation & Aromatic Therapy to Reduce Stress

One of the main causes of bruxism is anxiety. When we’re anxious, we tense our muscles (including our jaw muscles) which can lead to the grinding of our teeth, often subconsciously.

One way to reduce baseline levels of stress and anxiety is to meditate regularly. There are thousands of meditation tracks available for free through various apps (such as Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace, etc.) or on YouTube. Setting aside just 15 minutes a day to meditate will reduce your anxiety over time. In fact, research conducted in 2014 showed that over an eight week period, daily meditation is just about as effective as medication to treat anxiety.

3. Magnesium & Turmeric

Magnesium and Turmeric are natural muscle relaxers. Both are available as over-the-counter supplements at drug stores, but you can also add foods that are rich in these minerals to your diet.

Magnesium-rich foods include whole grains, spinach, almonds, peanuts, cashews, black beans, and soy milk. Turmeric can be included in many different kinds of recipes.

4. Jaw Massages

Perform some light jaw massages before you go to bed to help relax the jaw muscles. Take two or three fingers in each hand and place them on the cheek around the jaw hinge. Lightly add pressure and rub the area for 10 seconds. Continue this exercise in any other areas of your face or jaw where tension is being held.

5. Jaw Muscle Stretches

Similarly to massages, there are also a number of jaw muscle stretches you can do before going to sleep. One example is to relax the jaw muscles, then to slowly stretch your teeth apart as far as possible (without feeling pain), holding it for a couple of seconds, and then releasing.

6. Practice Good Sleeping Habits

According to the American Psychological Association, “adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night report higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night (5.5 vs. 4.4 on a 10-point scale).” Our bodies are built to obey a natural circadian rhythm, which means that our brains crave routine.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. Almost half of the American population suffers from some sort of sleep disorder, including insomnia. But there are some things you can do to help your body wind down, reducing stress along the way:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Turn off the lights an hour or two before bed and disconnect from electronic devices.
  • Listen to soothing music just before going to sleep or as you go to sleep.
  • Read a book, preferably something unstimulating like a non-fiction, just before going to sleep.
  • Journal your thoughts as you lie in bed, giving yourself permission to let go of the stresses that might keep you awake.

7. Avoid Alcohol and Stimulants Before Bed

Research has shown that people who drink alcohol before bed may have an easier time falling asleep, but they don’t get as much REM sleep as those who go to bed sober. This leads to greater feelings of sleepiness when awake, which can increase feelings of anxiety.

8. Mouth Guards

One of the most effective steps you can take to reduce the symptoms of bruxism is to get fitted for a night guard. Night guards are a soft retainer designed to fit your mouth and prevent your teeth from making contact at night.

Athletes in contact sports also suffer from the effects of bruxism when their heads crash into other athletes or the ground. Sports guards serve a similar purpose to night guards, and professional athletes all around the globe rely on them to prevent tooth damage while playing.

If you’re interested in getting fitted for a night guard or sports mouth guard, give Loudoun Smile Center a call and we can get you set up for an appointment.

9. Talk Therapy

If you feel that sleep bruxism is just one symptom of deeper anxiety problems, consider beginning a therapy program with a local licensed therapist. It is likely that through this practice, your bruxism will diminish as stressful areas of your day-to-day life are discussed and worked through.

10. Call Your Doctor

It’s possible that teeth grinding is a side effect of a medication you’re already taking. Your doctor will also be able to talk you through options if your bruxism doesn’t improve through some of our above methods.

11. Get Checked for Sleep Apnea

Did you know that one in four people who grind their teeth suffer from sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder during which your breathing starts and stops in a disruptive fashion, leading to lower levels of REM sleep. This can cause people to sleep for more hours than is necessary each night but still feel tired while they’re awake.

Dr. Maya Bachour at Loudoun Smile Center is not only a licensed dentist, she’s also a Diplomat with the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. If you think you might suffer from sleep apnea, make an appointment to get it checked out.

Ashburn, VA Experts in Teeth Grinding

Loudoun Smile Center is the only business in the area with a license in both dentistry and sleep therapy. Here, you can get a full evaluation of your teeth grinding and find out if it’s due to sleep apnea or other oral health issues. Give us a call today.