Grinding and clenching teeth can cause neck pain and headaches.

However, you are probably not aware of grinding them consciously.

This is because you usually do it unconsciously in your sleep.

In that case, it may seem like stopping it is out of your control. Not really!

One of the causes of teeth grinding or bruxism is stress.

When you make changes in your life, you can notice the impact on your teeth too.

There are also other ways to address the issue and stop its side effect on your teeth.

This article discusses the ways you can stop clenching teeth during the night.

Keep reading below to implement these ways!

bruxism causes

What Causes Bruxism?

One of the major causes of teeth grinding is stress.

You can unconsciously clench teeth and grind them during the night without knowing in the morning.

Another cause is its association with sleep disorders and diseases.

Medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, Parkinson’s disease, GERD, epilepsy, ADHD.

Moreover, it can become a habit all these years which is difficult to give up.

Hence, if you do not have any stress currently, you may still grind your teeth in sleep.

Additionally, having crooked and misaligned teeth can affect your bite.

Bruxism is more common in children than it is in adults as the condition lessens over time.

Moreover, children can also inherit it from their parents.

If sleep bruxism runs in the family then your child is likely to grind their teeth in sleep too.

Additionally, smoking, drinking beverages with caffeine and alcohol can increase the risk of grinding.

Moreover, medications such as antidepressants can also be the cause of bruxism.

Besides all this, if you generally have a slightly aggressive or competitive personality then the stress resulting from that will not only exhaust you but also lead to bruxism.

You do not only grind teeth while you are asleep but can also do so while you are awake.

This is known as awake bruxism.

It happens because you are habitual to grind or due to a trigger such as stress, frustration or tension.

It can also be a coping strategy or an unhealthy habit to increase concentration.

While all these may be the causes behind your bruxism, the exact cause can be a mixture of all these as there is no one reason behind doing it.

Nonetheless, if you do not stop doing it then it can result in complications affecting your oral health severely.

More on that below!

grinding complication

Symptoms and Complications of Clenching Teeth

If you clench teeth, then it affects their shape, especially of the canines.

They can flatten losing their unique shape but it also affects the other teeth by chipping or fracturing them.

Also, your overall teeth will become loose.

If you grind during your sleep then, it can be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner.

Also, your tooth enamel will gradually start wearing out.

This exposes the dentin which will make your teeth look yellow.

Furthermore, as the enamel weakens then you are more prone to tooth sensitivity and feel pain as well.

This pain goes beyond your teeth and reaches your head, neck, face and jaw.

Your jaw muscles will become tight and the jaw will not open or close comfortably.

The chewing action can damage the inside of your cheek.

You can start feeling ear pain, headache and pain around your temples.

Due to constantly grinding in your sleep, you may get improper sleep and it can constantly disrupt you over time.

Over time these symptoms can worsen.

You can have severe facial and jaw pain.

Moreover, it can damage previous dental restorations such as crowns besides harming your teeth and jaw.

Furthermore, it also affects the TMJ.

It can result in temporomandibular joint disorder resulting in a click sound when you open or close your mouth.

Your facial muscles can enlarge and you may face difficulty while speaking, chewing and swallowing food.

Before things get complicated, visit your dentist or doctor to correct the damage and for a systematic review.

They can look into the existing damage caused by the continuous grinding.

They can also recommend ways to prevent further harm.

However, you can also try remedies and implement changes in your life to stop clenching.

Let’s find out about it next.

reducing stress to reduce grinding


Decrease Stress to Stop The Habit of Clenching Teeth

As it is one of the main underlying causes behind your grinding, you need to deal with the stress that is deteriorating your health in several ways.

Teeth grinding is only one of these.

While getting stressed may not be in your control, reducing it is.

You should begin by having a positive outlook on life.

Thinking negatively all the time can affect your mental peace and also keep you stressed by focusing on the “have nots” rather than the “haves”.

Hence, think positively and make it work by writing it down in a journal.

Spill everything that has been bothering you and think positively about it.

Doing this before bed can help calm down the anxieties and may not trigger the clenching.

You can relax by practicing the following:

  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Yoga/Exercise
  • Seeking help or therapy

Mindfulness does not only involve being in the present but also awareness of your problems.

Go to sleep while being aware of the pain resulting in your jaw.

Loosen up your facial muscles and jaw muscles to relax them in order to release tension in them.

decreasing stress

This will prevent the grinding and if you wake up from sleep in the middle of the night, remember to relax your muscles again.

Meditating also increases mindfulness and you become aware of your surroundings.

It can significantly decrease your stress and anxieties while also helping with your depression.

One way to meditate is to do Yoga.

It can help alleviate depression which can be the cause of your stress.

Furthermore, any exercise such as half an hour walk daily can alleviate stress by connecting you with nature.

Exercise can release endorphins that can make you feel better.

Also, consider going to therapy or talking to a friend to reduce stress.

Be Conscious of What You Drink and Eat

You should only chew when you are eating.

Do not chew the pen cap, either ice or chewing gum.

All of these actions will keep your jaw clenched.

You need to relax your jaw rather than keep it taut.

Hence, only do the chewing action while eating food.

Even when it comes to food you need to drop a few items that may be worsening your condition.

Such as, chewy food, caffeine and alcohol.

Limit your intake of taffy, popcorn and steak as they require you to use your jaw and teeth hard enough to chew properly.

Especially avoid them when you notice flaring bruxism as they will cause a greater strain on your jaw.

Moreover, alcohol and caffeinated beverages can disrupt your sleep.

Hence, there is a greater likelihood of grinding in sleep.

Therefore, avoid coffee, tea, or even chocolate, anything that affects your sleep.

mouthguards for clenching teeth

Using Mouthguards and Correcting Misalignment

One sure-fire way to stop clenching is to wear a mouthguard while sleeping.

Mouthguards and splints can prevent your teeth from grinding and clenching.

However, they will not cause cure your bruxism but only reduce the damage the condition can cause to your teeth.

As they cushion the teeth, at least they will not grind each other.

Wearing a custom-made mouth guard is a better option than wearing an over-the-counter splint.

This is because it will fit you better.

If the night guard comes loose then you may end up grinding again.

Therefore, make sure they fit properly.

Moreover, they also decrease the strain on your jaw relaxing it a bit.

Additionally, they are more comfortable as OTC mouthguards are made of plastic material.

Hence, getting a custom-made one is a better option.

However, if you want to go for a cheaper OTC option then ensure that it is made up of soft plastic or can be softened by boiling in water.

Another dental treatment is to get braces, crowns, invisalign or overlays for correcting misalignment.

Misalignment can cause you to grind your teeth.

When your teeth are in good shape and your bite is corrected then you will refrain from doing so.

Reductive coronoplasty also helps to level your bite in case of misalignment and crooked teeth.

Reshaping the biting surface of teeth helps to keep you from clenching the misaligned teeth.

treatments for clenching teeth

Other Treatments for Clenching Teeth

Botox injection is also a fairly new treatment for clenching and grinding.

Your doctor may inject it right into the muscle that is responsible to move the jaw i.e. a masseter.

Hence, relaxing it and alleviating pain in the jaw as well as reducing grinding.

However, it does not cure bruxism entirely only reduces the pain.

Additionally, you can try tongue and jaw muscle exercises in order to relax the muscles in the jaw.

Opening your mouth and letting your tongue touch your front teeth relaxes them.

Another way is to loudly speak the letter “N”. It prevents your upper and lower teeth from getting in contact.

Taking a warm bath can also help in relaxing the jaw.

So can drinking herbal tea before you sleep to provide some warmth to the jaw.

A warm towel and heating pad placed next to your jaw will do the same.

Whenever you feel your jaw muscles are taut, give them a massage.

This rubbing will aid in releasing the tension.

Take Home Message 

There are several ways of stopping clenching teeth as long as you actively try to do so.

Remember that all of these will require consistency and several tries.

Therefore, do not give up as this unhealthy habit will only make your oral health and teeth worse.