If you’ve ever suffered from teeth grinding, you’re not alone. In fact, a study published in 2020 by Tel Aviv University in Israel found that of the 1,800 participants, 35% saw an increase in teeth grinding and facial pain as a result of stress brought on by the pandemic.
Ongoing grinding puts pressure on the jaw and mouth that can cause long-term issues like earaches, jaw disorders, and chipped teeth. The telltale signs of teeth grinding are a stiff neck or a sore jaw the next morning.
Though teeth grinding is a common issue, there are a variety of home remedies for teeth grinding that can treat the grinding itself and the underlying causes to ease stress and get a better night’s sleep.
1. Splint Therapy
Splint therapy is an effective measure to take in reducing teeth grinding at night. This involves wearing a custom dental night guard, bite guard, or occlusal splint. The guard will act as a barrier between your upper and lower teeth to prevent you from grinding them together at night. While you can purchase one at a drugstore, it’s best to make a visit to your dentist to have one fitted to your exact bite because a poorly fitted split can actually increase grinding behavior.
2. Warm Compress
A warm compress is great for the symptoms of teeth grinding and clenching. The compress will help relax your muscles and get blood circulating in that area to reduce pain. You can do this by lying with your cheek against a heating pad or by applying a warm washcloth to your cheek. Another option is to use a hot water bottle. They can be easily contoured to fit around your jaw and temples.
3. Jaw Massage
Massaging your overworked jaw muscles is another effective way to minimize pain associated with teeth grinding. There are several methods you can use to massage your jaw and target specific muscles, but here are a few to get you started:
- Fully open and close your jaw (repeat 10 times)
- Open your mouth and move your jaw from side to side (repeat 10 times)
- Using the pads of your fingers and starting at your jawline below your ears and working your way down, gently massage in a circular motion where you find knots or pain
4. Mindful Teeth Placement
Building awareness of how your jaw is set is one way to avoid clenching or grinding that may happen during the daytime. Try being more mindful of your teeth placement by maintaining a gap between your upper and lower teeth. Do this as much as you can during the day (except when chewing) to teach yourself proper jaw placement.
5. Stress-Reduction Techniques
Stress can manifest itself in a number of ways throughout the body. By implementing stress-relieving techniques into your daily routine, adding in cardio exercises, and focusing on your overall health, you can better manage your stress and learn its triggers. Here are a few ways you can reduce stress in your everyday life:
6. Magnesium-Rich Foods
Magnesium is an alkaline mineral known to benefit heart and muscle health, and can help with the relaxation of muscle tissue and blood vessels. You can apply topical magnesium sprays or lotions to your jaw to reduce pain or try adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, spinach, and cashews.
7. Turmeric Milk
Milk before bedtime has been a popular nightly ritual for decades and adding in turmeric can make this an even more effective night time beverage. The amino acid tryptophan found in milk helps your nervous system relax and sleep soundly, and the curcumin found in turmeric acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. Be careful with how often you consume turmeric, as it can stain your teeth over time.
Turmeric milk (also known as golden milk) can be made by heating up the milk of your choice and adding some turmeric spice, a pinch of black pepper to help absorption, cinnamon, and sweetener of your choice (such as honey). Let the ingredients simmer together for 10 minutes, then enjoy.
8. Herbal Tea
Drinking herbal tea like chamomile is another simple way to ease the pain caused by teeth grinding. Herbal tea relaxes your body and mind to allow for a better night’s sleep. Try drinking a cup of warm herbal tea before bed to reduce the chance of grinding during sleep.
9. Vitamin C
Vitamin C has a wide range of health benefits, including immunity-boosting properties. It can also benefit the adrenal glands that help you keep stress at bay. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables such citrus fruit, peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, and broccoli. You could also talk with your doctor about adding in vitamin C supplements to your diet.
10. Valerian Root
Valerian is an herb and a popular ingredient in many medicines that help ease insomnia, restlessness, and anxiety. You can take valerian pills 30 to two hours before bedtime or try soaking dried valerian root in a cup of hot water to help you sleep and reduce stress.
What Causes Teeth Grinding at Night?
Teeth grinding is a common issue that is typically caused by underlying stress or anxiety. Teeth grinding happens most often at night, but teeth clenching can happen during the day. Other possible causes include an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. In some cases, teeth grinding can be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
What are the side effects and long-term effects of teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding can lead to a variety of side effects and long-term issues, some minor and some more serious.
The side effects of teeth grinding include:
- Broken crowns or fillings
- Cracked or damaged teeth
- Loose or painful teeth
- Wearing down of the tooth’s enamel
- Pain in the jaw, face, and ears
If you have been grinding your teeth for years, this can lead to more serious problems such as trouble swallowing, speaking, and chewing. Other issues that may arise include chronic ear and headache pain and facial muscle enlargement.
When to Seek Help
Talk with your doctor or dentist if you’re experiencing teeth grinding, as there are ways, such as being fitted for a custom night guard, that can help reduce the grinding and lead to better sleep and less pain. Dentists can spot the first signs of teeth grinding and help you create an action plan to reduce grinding.
Bottom Line: Teeth Grinding Is a Common Issue with Many Causes
Teeth grinding is a problem for many people. The pandemic has proven to add another layer of stress and anxiety into our lives, which can manifest in not-so-obvious ways such as teeth grinding and clenching.The good news is that there are several home remedies for teeth grinding that you can work into your daily routine to lessen the underlying causes and symptoms of teeth grinding. By taking a little time each day to unwind by doing 10 minutes of yoga or adding some magnesium-rich foods into your diet, you’ll be well on your way to less stress and less pain caused by teeth grinding — which is certainly something to smile about.