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Grinding Teeth At Night: A Problem You Might Be Unaware Of

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can be a habit that is totally undercover. Like a secret spy clenching your jaw while you are deep asleep and have no idea that this is happening. In all seriousness, grinding teeth at night can have harmful effects later on in life

Maybe you feel jaw, neck, face soreness, or pain in the morning? Perhaps you feel absolutely nothing but, at the last dentist appointment, you were told that your teeth are flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose?

Sounds like a horror film scenario, would you agree?

Is it possible that your old, squeaky mattress is making you tense at night? Perhaps you need to finally give yourself the experience of a new mattress?

Well, something brought you here, and I am happy to be of service. This article presents you with the best tips and tricks to say goodbye to grinding teeth at night.

Symptoms That You Are Grinding Teeth At Night

  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Inside of cheek chewing
  • Fractured, flattened teeth, increased sensitivity
  • Jaw, face, neck pain, or soreness
  • Headache 
  • Sleep disruption or constant random awakenings from sleep 

These symptoms, for some people, may appear more severe than for others. For several, it may even be barely noticeable.

Nevertheless, the habit of grinding teeth in sleep should make itself known over time. And when you do notice, it is best to see your dentist for approval.

Why Are You Grinding Teeth At Night?

To point out, grinding teeth also called bruxism[1] can be categorized as sleep bruxism and awake bruxism. Grinding teeth while awake is also a subconscious action, however, it is more likely that you could catch yourself doing it while awake than while asleep.

However, if you share your bed with someone, chances are they will notice (if they couldn't be described as super deep sleepers). And if they do, that means you are disrupting your partner's sleep as well. But don't worry! There are options of how to stop grinding teeth in sleep naturally as well as medically

So, once again, why are you grinding teeth in sleep?

Mental Health Issues 

Firstly, bruxism[2] is regulated by the central nervous system. Thinking of that, the most common reason why you are grinding teeth at night may be due to anxiety, stress, depression

This research[3] states that the most triggering factor is considered emotional stress

Teeth grinding might happen when you feel stressed and then stop afterward. Or it may be long-term if you are diagnosed with depression or experience anxiety on a daily basis. 

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Genes

Perhaps you have a memory of your mom complaining about your dad's teeth grinding in sleep? And it could be possible that one of your relatives experienced grinding teeth at night in their childhood, and it stopped in adulthood

21-50% of people who suffer from grinding teeth while sleeping have a direct family member who had bruxism in their childhood

Unfortunately, you can't control the things you inherit from your family. They can give you big blue eyes as well as health-related aspects.

Although, this could be a reason to get to know your relatives better. Maybe there is something additional you can inherit to future generations?

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Sleep Disorders

By having sleep disorders grinding teeth at night can seem like a cherry on top of it. To start off, it may happen if you experience narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a quite dangerous sleeping disorder that affects a person's ability to sleep and wake up. The scariest part — most of the time, the person can't manage the symptoms.  Symptoms include uncontrollable, excessive daytime sleepiness, hallucinations, sleep paralysis, sudden loss of muscle tone, changes in REM sleep

This deeply affects a person's day-to-day life, creating a stressful environment. What I mean by this — having narcolepsy can result in falling asleep anywhere without a warning. For example — at work, at a meeting, while having lunch, or driving. This creates dangerous or even life-threatening situations

Grinding teeth at night: a man worried and holding his head.

So there is no surprise if you experience teeth grinding in sleep as a result of narcolepsy.

The additional sleeping disorder I want to mention is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects breathing while sleeping. By having this sleeping disorder, people repeatedly stop breathing while asleep.

There are a few types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea — makes your throat muscles relax while sleeping, resulting in difficulty breathing
  • Central sleep apnea — the brain has a hard time sending signals and controlling breathing
  • And a mixture of both of them 

You might be experiencing sleep apnea if you possess the following symptoms:

  • Gasping for air in between sleeping
  • Loud snoring 
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Sleeping difficulties (insomnia)

Anyone can have sleep apnea, however, this disorder is more common between people over the age of 50 and the ones with specific traits and features like excessive weight

All in all sleeping disorders can cause stress to your body and mind. So grinding teeth while sleeping can be an outcome of that stress. 

In order to get rid of grinding teeth at night, you might want to acknowledge your sleeping problems, invest in having comfortable bedding and manage the sleeping difficulties properly. 

You may be so caught up with all the possible reasons and causes that you could've forgotten about your bed. It may be extremely obvious, but the mattress you sleep on can do you good or the other way around.

Nowadays, with all the new technology and benefits it is only natural that you need to change your mattress at least once

Trying out Saatva or Puffy mattresses would make you wonder how did you manage to sleep before them at all.

Unhealthy Practices

Smoking, drinking alcohol, and consuming caffeine are considered risk factors for teeth grinding. All of these affect your sleep quality and promote grinding teeth at night. For example, there is a myth revolving around alcohol that it supposedly helps you sleep. Nevertheless, it is completely false.

Various studies[4] show that alcohol decreases sleeping quality and interrupts REM sleep. So you might want to stay away from that. 

To specify REM (rapid eye movement), sleep is very important. While in a deep sleep, certain areas of the brain are stimulated, which evolves with protein production and affects memory, learning, and mood

Caffeine can also be ruthless when it comes to having a good night's sleep. It can take up to even 10 hours for caffeine to leave your system. Drinking coffee in the evenings and having a peaceful sleep? Never heard of her

All in all, a healthy lifestyle is always a game-changer. You will gain benefits by restraining yourself from alcohol or smoking in regards to your own well-being

Grinding teeth at night: cocktail glasses on a bar.

Well, maybe you would miss a social gathering or a party. Therefore, if it is too painful to resist, try using balance. Balance is the key to never crossing the line between healthy and unhealthy habits.  Despite that, your well-being should always be a top priority. If you are thriving — you can live a long life full of new and exciting experiences.

Okay, and maybe a few more parties. 

Medication

The majority of drugs might have some kind of unwanted effects. Occasionally, it may seem like the principle of lesser evil choosing a less immoral thing between two of them. What I mean by this reference — experiencing side effects by using medication, or dealing with any kind of symptoms without medication. 

Nevertheless, that was just my philosophical thought, do not take it too seriously. We all experience Hamlet moments at some point in our lives, do we?

It is thought that drugs used to treat mental disorders or psychiatric conditions cause changes in the central nervous system[5] and can result in teeth grinding in sleep or even while awake. These medications can be antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which can be prescribed for panic disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, menopause, etc.

There are other similar medications that may cause teeth grinding in sleep, so if you have suspicions or concernsconsult your doctor.

Natural Treatments

You might be wondering how to stop grinding teeth in sleep naturally. If your symptoms do not appear as severe or harmful it is understandable that you might seek a solution that does not include medical treatment or doctor's appointments

Here are my top 8 tips on how to stop grinding teeth in sleep naturally. Try them out and apply what works for you the best!

Stress Reduction and Sleep

As I mentioned before, stress and sleep are top-notch important if not the main factors you should consider while searching for how to stop grinding teeth in sleep naturally.  

Stress reduction and sleep quality increase could help your teeth grinding in sleep and let me remind you — it is very beneficial for your overall health and well-being. So you would be achieving a few advantages

Here are a few techniques you can try:

  • Yoga before bed — yoga is proved to be relaxing overall so why not add it to your evening routine?

Moreover, yoga is a physical activity, and being even a little bit active is always beneficial. You stretch out your muscles after a long day, ease the tension, and tire your body by doing yoga. Moreover, yoga includes concentration and breathing exercises that allow your consciousness to be present. It is also a way of clearing your mind. 

Grinding teeth at night: a woman doing yoga poses.

In honor of clearing your mind — another option could be meditation. By meditating, you should wind down, prepare your body for sleep, settle your thoughts. Just make sure to find a comfortable position and be in a quiet place for the best effect.

Remember to breathe and concentrate on your breathing. Fill your lungs with deep breaths and release all your worries by exhaling. Let me point out the different types of breathing techniques and their benefits: 

  • Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean breath increases oxygen consumption by 50% and promotes relaxation[6]
  • Kapalbhati Pranayama or Skull Shining Breath — cleanses the nasal and sinuses passageway, stimulates abdominal muscles and organs. Cleanses throat and lungs as well. Beneficial for relaxing, increasing blood circulation and metabolism.
  • Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing — reduces anxiety, depression, stress, promotes more of a calm, happy mood,

Looks quite interesting if you ask me. If you never attempted of doing it, it is worth giving it a try at least once in your life, am I right?

By exercising you should ease your teeth grinding symptoms since your body will be more tired and relaxed

  • Change Your Bedding

Yes, it could be possible that you are already satisfied with your bed situation. However, maybe I will change your mind? Perhaps I will higher your expectations? Or for some reason, this part of the article could be beneficial for recommending it to your friend who always experiences back pain in the mornings

Or perhaps I should stop with the rhetorical questions and get to the point?

To increase your sleeping quality, reduce tension, and get rid of grinding teeth at night you must be 100% comfortable in your own bed.

Starting with that, what kind of sleeper are you? Do you sleep on your back? Your stomach? Do you move a lot while sleeping? How much firmness do you prefer?

The most popular mattresses in the market:

  • Memory foam — adapts to your body and has pressure relief tendencies. Gel-infused mattresses like this one even have a cooling effect
  • Innerspring — better support and more bouncy. Great for spine alignment so suitable for back sleepers[7].
  • Hybrid (innerspring latex and innerspring memory foam) — the latex one can be an essential option for those who have allergies. The mattress is also bouncy, has good support. Memory foam one is a mixture of latex and memory foam so it could be a very neutral choice. 
  • Latex  — allergen-free, has pain relief tendencies, mold, and dust mites resistance.
     

As you may already see, there is a big variety of brands to choose from. So check out our guide to the best mattresses and invest in an amazing snooze with Saatva, Puffy, or other ones and be free from grinding teeth in sleep. 

Let me add that your pillow is significant as well. Give your neck and head a bit more appreciation for carrying that heavy brain of yours all the time

Jokes aside, you should definitely check out our pillow guide as well if you are debating on having a totally new sleeping experience

By having the most comfortable bed possible you will have one less factor to worry about. Your old mattress can't help you ease grinding teeth at night, but it can add more problems later on in life. 

  • Tea for sleep

Another tip to ease stress and increase sleeping quality is to drink herbal tea.

As I covered before talking about bad habits, there are beverages such as coffee, green or black tea[8], alcohol that could significantly reduce your sleep quality and promote sleep disruptions. However, there are ones that are on the complete opposite side of that spectrum and might help ease your grinding teeth at night.

Let's take a look at a few tea options to help find the answer for "how to stop grinding teeth naturally".

Grinding teeth at night: a cup of tea and a teapot.

Valerian root tea has a specific taste that could not be preferred by everyone. However, there is nothing that honey or maple syrup can't make better, would you agree?

Moreover, valerian root could help ease insomnia symptoms or anxiety. So it is pretty self-explanatory that it might help you sleep and relax after a stressful day.

Another one would be chamomile tea which contains apigenin[9] (a mild sedative). After drinking chamomile tea before bed, you should fall asleep way easier, feel more relaxed, and you might even skip grinding teeth in sleep that night

Grinding teeth at night: a woman standing and holding a cup of tea.

It would be a crime not to mention passionflower tea, so let me remind you of this goodie. You may hear about passionflower tea less when talking about teas for sleep. However, it is as beneficial as the other ones

Studies[10] have shown that drinking passionflower tea has a significant effect on sleep.

There are also other choices such as lavender or lemon balm tea. They both have an amazing scent and can be used in aromatherapy as well. 

So now is your time to pick up a new herbal tea the next time you go grocery shopping. I can assure you that, lighting some candles, cuddling up with a soft blanket, and reading a novel while drinking a cup of herbal tea will feel like you are the main character in life. Having bedtime rituals could be pretty magical

Jaw And Tongue Exercises

Jaw and tongue exercises may be a more generic way of how to stop grinding teeth in sleep naturally

Here are a few of them:

  • Hold the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and stay that way for 5-10 seconds while your mouth is open as widely as possible. But do not force it, you still have to feel comfortable. 
  • The same exercise, but slide your lower jaw as far as you can to the front and then to the back.
  • Hold a thin object in between your front teeth and slide your lower jaw forward while the object rests on your back teeth and then on your front teeth again.
  • Tuck your chin creating a "double chin" and hold it for 10 seconds.
  • Open and close your mouth while holding your thumb on your chin creating pressure and resistance. 

After these exercises, you can gently massage your jaw to release tension

Mouth Guards

If you ever had braces you may have seen mouth guards or something similar already. Mouth guards are placed on your teeth as a barrier to stop your teeth from grinding against each other. Nevertheless, I would recommend consulting your dentist and purchasing a custom-made mouth guard if you decide to use it.

Custom-made mouth guard, as you may have guessed, would be made personally for you, according to your teeth and jaw.

Custom-made ones are more expensive, but they should have a better effect of preventing your teeth from damage. They can also be made in different thicknesses and from a more comfortable material. However, I would like to point out that if grinding teeth while sleeping is super severe for you, having a mouth guard could not be enough.

So you probably shouldn't use this as the only method of how to stop grinding teeth naturally. 

Hot Towel/Compress

Warmth is known to help with lots of kinds of pain or tension

Placing a warm towel on your jaw and mouth can relax your muscles and increase blood circulation in that area. So if you feel pain after grinding teeth at night — lie down with a warm towel for at least 10 minutes or until the warmth cools off.

You can try lying on opposite sides and placing the towel on one side of your jaw at a time. You can also use a heating pad or any other kind of tool that would be comfortable for placing on your face. 

However, this method might only have short-term benefits

Magnesium, Vitamins B And C 

How would you describe your eating habits? Do you prefer cooking or having takeaway? Maybe you love fast food and consume lots of carbs on the daily basis? If so, this may be a time for a change

For starters, to get rid of the habit of grinding teeth while sleeping you need to add more magnesium-rich foods to your diet. Studies[11] have shown that magnesium can do wonders for your grinding teeth at night problem. 

All in all, magnesium helps to relax and can regulate your mood as well as even promote bone health

You can find magnesium in these foods:

  • Pumpkin
  • Avocados
  • Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Brown rice
  • Spinach
  • Raisins
  • Yogurt
  • Brown rice

Moreover, as much as you need magnesium in your diet you also need vitamins B and C

Vitamin B is needed for your nervous system, cell health, healthy brain function, muscle tone. This vitamin also helps reduce stress which is vital for getting rid of grinding teeth at night. 

You can find vitamin B in vegetables such as potatoes and cabbage, chicken, seafood.

Grinding teeth at night: vegetables and fruit.

Vitamin C is very important for your overall health, especially in the cold season. Having a stronger immune system promotes better mental health and stress relief. You can find vitamin C in many fruits (mostly citruses) and vegetables (broccoli, peppers, potatoes, brussels sprouts).

Moreover, if you feel like shifting your diet isn't enough, or you are not fond of the food products mentioned above, you can always take supplements.

And to be sure what you might be lacking — you can do a blood test.

Medical Treatments

Now my tips on how to stop grinding teeth in sleep naturally are in your hands. But don't forget to be more physically active, do yoga, meditate, attempt breathing exercises to be more mindful and calm. Retreat from caffeine and add herbal teas to your beverage menu. 

Also, don't hesitate to try out the jaw and tongue exercises and use a warm compress for treating soreness.

However, there are more serious alternatives. Let's take a look at them.

Medications

Muscles relaxants — this can be a possible suggestion for preventing teeth grinding. Taking muscles relaxants before bed may cause you to get rid of the habit itself over time.  

Medications for anxiety and stress — as well as you may be trying to reduce stress with home remedies and lifestyle changes, you may need additional medications according to the severity of bruxism. To determine, what kind of medication you may need — consult your doctor

Botox injections

There are research studies[12] stating that botox injection can reduce the frequency of grinding teeth at night episodes and decrease pain levels

Nevertheless, to start botulin treatment you have to consult your doctor first. A medical professional will tell you if this treatment is needed for sure

Grinding teeth at night: a woman lying in a doctors office.

This procedure takes place by a professional injecting botox into a specific cheek muscle. It is meant to relax the muscle and the effect could last for four months. To specify, it may be needed to be repeated several times. 

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation can be used to reduce the muscle activity that causes grinding teeth at night. For this procedure, a medical professional applies low-level electrical stimulation on the muscles during a bruxism episode

There are studies that show promising results of this practice, nevertheless, most of the time it has too much of a low impact on reducing pain for it to be used more widely. For electrical stimulation to be more effective additional studies are needed. This treatment could be combined with other types of therapy and medical treatments in regards to reaching better results

Conclusions 

Grinding teeth at night can be as annoying and tiring as it can be merely noticeable. Although, it is something you should start treating as soon as you can. 

Nobody likes going to the dentist, but untreatable bruxism, over time, can make your appointments more frequent as the result of possible teeth damage.

If home remedies are enough for you — spectacular. Nonetheless, if it comes to light that it is not — have a talk with your doctor and I am sure that you will find the best medical treatment available

To add, never be petty about upgrading materials for your bed. To ensure if your current bedding is good enough, or in fact, a change is needed — you can take a look at our best mattresses guide

Thanks for reading and I wish you luck finding what works best for your teeth grinding in sleep!

 


Scientific References

1. Mónica Firmani, Milton Reyes, Nilda Becerra, et al. '[Sleep bruxism in children and adolescents]'

2. H Beddis, M Pemberton, Stephen Davies 'Sleep bruxism: an overview for clinicians'

3. R. V. Murali, Priyadarshni Rangarajan, Anjana Mounissamy 'Bruxism: Conceptual discussion and review'

4. Irshaad O Ebrahim, Colin M Shapiro, Adrian J Williams, et al. 'Alcohol and sleep I: effects on normal sleep'

5. Giovanni Falisi , DDS PhD, Claudio Rastelli 'Psychotropic drugs and bruxism'

6. S Telles, T Desiraju 'Oxygen consumption during pranayamic type of very slow-rate breathing'

7. Bert H. Jacobson,a, Ali Boolani, Doug B. Smithc 'Changes in back pain, sleep quality, and perceived stress after introduction of new bedding systems'

8. Jenna M Chin, Michele L Merves, Bruce A Goldberger 'Caffeine content of brewed teas'

9. Bahare Salehi, Alessandro Venditti, Mehdi Sharifi-Rad, et al. 'The Therapeutic Potential of Apigenin'

10. A Ngan, R Conduit 'A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality'

11. C Ploceniak '[Bruxism and magnesium, my clinical experiences since 1980]'

12. T Fernández-Núñez, S Amghar-Maach, C Gay-Escoda 'Efficacy of botulinum toxin in the treatment of bruxism: Systematic review'


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FAQ

Why am I grinding teeth at night?

There can be a variety of factors. However,  the most common reasons why you may be grinding teeth at night could be stress, anxiety, poor sleeping quality resulting from your old mattress, insomnia or other sleeping disorders, medications, unhealthy habits.

How to stop grinding teeth at night naturally?

The most popular ways of how to stop grinding teeth using home remedies: stress reduction, increasing sleeping quality by upgrading your mattress, eating more magnesium-rich foods, using a mouth guard, using a warm towel as a compress. However, consult a professional if needed.

What is a memory foam mattress?

Memory foam mattresses are created mostly from polyurethane and have additional chemicals added that increase its viscosity and density. It’s also often called “viscoelastic polyurethane foam”. In order to create the air movement and let your body “breath” while you sleep, it has open foam bubbles. Memory foam mattresses are created in a way to adapt to your body curves and to also recover their original shape after you get up. Therefore, this kind of top mattresses offer you the feeling as if is created specifically for you.

Do top rated mattresses offer a money-back guarantee? Is there a catch?

All of the top mattress brands offer a money-back guarantee. The free trial usually starts from 90 to 100 nights, and if you don’t like the mattress, you can simply give it back. The majority of best mattress providers will not only give your money back but will also come to get it for free. If the mattress provider is reputable, there won’t be any catch - everyone understands that you have to try the mattress before knowing if it fits you.

What is off-gassing? Is it poisonous?

Off-gassing refers to the odor which comes from a new mattress. It’s the process that happens when volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) leak out of the mattress foam into the air. Those chemicals include both human-made and natural components, including formaldehyde, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), benzene, trichloroethane, and perfluorocarbons. Top rated mattresses will have zero or very minimal off-gassing. Many of them are sent to the customer already after the off-gassing. Is it dangerous, though? Even though the smell can be unpleasant, there’s usually only a very small amount of chemicals that can do no harm to your health.

How long do top rated mattresses serve?

The durability of a mattress depends on the provider and the quality of the materials used. Usually, you get a 10-year warranty, which will be valid in case of any defects. Normally, mattresses will serve you from 7 to 10 years, or even longer. Thus, when you buy the best mattress, you should take it as a long-term investment.