Have you ever woken up with a sore jaw? Do you start your mornings with a mild headache, or toothache? Do you experience stiffness while eating? If these scenarios sound familiar, then you might be suffering from sleep-induced teeth grinding. This bad habit, also known as bruxism, refers to the involuntary clenching, grinding, and gnashing of teeth. Nearly 5% of all people grind their teeth to some extent, and more often than not, it occurs during sleep. Because of this, identifying the issue and figuring out how to stop it can prove a little difficult. But fortunately, it’s very possible! Below, we’ve shared some symptoms and signs you should know regarding this very common problem, as well as some easy ways to promote better oral habits.
How to Know if You Grind Your Teeth at NightThere are numerous signs and symptoms of bruxism that can help you determine if you’re grinding your teeth during sleep. These can include:
- Jaw, joint, and ear pain
- Jaw soreness or tenderness
- Tooth aches, especially right after waking up
- Stiffness in the face and temples after waking up
- Cracked or chipped teeth or tooth enamel
- Sensitivity in teeth or gums, particularly when exposed to heat or cold
- Stiffness in the jaw while chewing
- Involuntary jaw clenching while awake
- Loose teeth
How Can I Stop Grinding My Teeth?A special mouthguard, called a ‘bite splint’ is often used to treat bruxism. While this is effective in lessening symptoms and reducing damage to teeth and enamel, the majority of individuals using a bite splint find that it doesn’t entirely stop bruxism altogether. Instead, many of the ways to stop grinding your teeth come naturally, with either lifestyle changes, therapy, or other cognitive approaches.
How to Stop Grinding Teeth in Sleep NaturallyBecause teeth grinding most often coincides with stress and anxiety, the best way to treat bruxism naturally is through various lifestyle changes and mental health treatment. These options can include:
- Proper Sleep Hygiene – Many individuals don’t realize the importance of a good and proper sleep regimen. Good sleep hygiene helps reduce stress, insomnia, grogginess in the morning, fatigue throughout the day, and brings forth many other benefits. In turn, your mental state at night improves, reducing the likelihood of grinding your teeth.
- Exercise – It can’t be stated enough how important regular exercise is in the grand scheme of your mental health. Exercise reduces stress, which then can lower your chances of teeth grinding at night.
- Stress Management Therapy – Stress is highly considered the leading cause of bruxism. Since levels of stress vary significantly, considering stress management therapy can help both your mental health in general, as well as the severity of your teeth grinding.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy – This type of therapy is not solely focused on reducing stress, instead working to improve your mental health in all aspects with a cognitive approach. In turn, it can help with stress, anxiety, and other causes of bruxism.
- Relaxation Techniques – Consider yoga, meditation, or even simple stretches to ease your mind before bed, so your levels of stress are reduced when falling asleep, and staying asleep.
Long Term Effects of BruxismIn most cases, bruxism doesn’t cause serious long-term effects, but severe cases may lead to:
- Tension-type headaches
- Severe jaw or facial pain
- Damage to teeth, jaw, crowns, caps, restorations
- Complications to your temporomandibular joints (TMJs), which may cause a clicking sound when opening and closing your mouth