7 Ways To Stop Grinding Your Teeth In Your Sleep, Naturally

Medically reviewed by Brian T. Luong, DMD

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a repetitive activity that is characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth. Occurring in about 13% of adults, teeth grinding can occur anytime of day, either while awake or asleep. Some common signs and symptoms of teeth grinding include soreness or tension of the jaw, headache, tiredness, tooth pain or sensitivity, and chipped, cracked, flattened, or loose teeth.

Certain lifestyle factors and conditions can contribute to teeth grinding, including high levels of stress, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, respiratory disorders, smoking, and high alcohol or caffeine consumption.

To maintain your oral health, it's important to figure out and address the root causes of teeth grinding. While most cases of bruxism are mild, severe cases of bruxism can lead to damaged teeth, headache, fatigue, and jaw pain if left untreated.

Here are seven natural ways to stop grinding your teeth in your sleep without the use of mouth guards, medication, or other medical interventions. These methods include lifestyle and behavioral changes, mouth exercises, and therapies.

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Avoid or Limit Caffeine, Alcohol, and Smoking

Caffeine (particularly coffee), alcohol, and smoking have all been associated with a greater likelihood of teeth grinding at night. Studies show these substances can lead to increased activity of the masseter, which is the muscle that runs through the back part of the cheek on each side (from the base of the skull to the lower jaw), at night during sleep. The increased activity of this muscle is a major contributing factor to the excessive grinding of teeth in your sleep.

If you know you grind your teeth at night, make an effort to avoid or reduce consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and smoking. Over time, these lifestyle changes may help improve symptoms of teeth grinding in your sleep.

Avoid Eating Hard Foods

Hard foods such as nuts and candies can pose a problem for habitual teeth grinders. While these foods might be tasty, it's important to avoid eating hard foods (as much as possible) to prevent further pain to the jaw. Instead, eat softer foods that are less likely to cause pain while chewing, such as scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, yogurt, or proteins such as salmon.

Psychological Therapies

Psychological therapies such as biofeedback therapy and psychotherapy have been shown to help reduce excessive teeth grinding. Psychotherapy – a type of talk therapy that helps you identify emotions, thoughts, and behaviors – has been found to be helpful in reducing teeth grinding that occurs during the day.

For nighttime teeth grinding, biofeedback therapy (BFT, a treatment that teaches mind-body techniques to help you control involuntary bodily functions, such as muscle response) has been shown to significantly reduce the action of teeth grinding at night; however follow-up clinical studies are needed to confirm long-term efficacy and safety of BFT.

The amount of therapy sessions you need will vary depending on the severity of your teeth grinding. Follow-up sessions are also required to monitor progress. To learn more about the psychological therapies that are available to you, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Perform Mouth Exercises

Performing at-home exercises or going to physical therapy can provide you with some self-massage techniques and mouth exercises to help reduce the muscle pain and stiffness associated with teeth grinding in your sleep. Physical therapy can help restore the action of the muscles and joints on each side of the head to improve overall symptoms.

Mouth exercises you can try at home include:

  • Massage the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and face, keeping an eye out for painful, small nodules (called "trigger points") that can cause pain in the face and head.

  • Throughout the day, make an effort to relax your jaw and face muscles.

To ensure you are performing mouth exercises or self-massage techniques safely, schedule an appointment with a physiotherapist or healthcare provider, who can teach you how to perform each exercise properly.

Reduce Stress

Stress and related factors, such as anxiety, nervousness or feeling down, can contribute to teeth grinding in your sleep. Research shows an association between levels of stress and teeth grinding, especially in cases related to emotional stress and work-related sources of stress. Despite these findings, more research is needed to establish this possible association.

To combat stress, implement simple relaxation techniques to reduce your daily stress, such as deep breathing, meditating, light stretching, spending time with loved ones, or taking part in activities or hobbies you enjoy.

Apply Ice or Moist Heat

Applying ice or moist heat to tense jaw muscles has been shown in studies to help relieve muscle soreness. To relieve sore jaw or facial muscles, apply moist heat to the sore or tender area for at least 20 minutes, once per day, until symptoms improve.

Improve Sleep Hygiene

Grinding your teeth in your sleep is classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. If you notice or feel the signs of teeth grinding but don't know when or why it's happening, then it's likely happening while you're asleep. Fortunately, there are ways to improve your sleep hygiene to help you relax and limit movement of the muscles that can cause teeth grinding at night.

To improve your quality of sleep, avoid exercising too close to bedtime and limit screen time and other mental stimulations before bed. It's also helpful to ensure your sleeping environment is dark and quiet, and to avoid stimulants such as tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine at night.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Visit a healthcare provider about your teeth grinding if lifestyle changes, behavioral modifications, or physical therapies are not alleviating the problem, or if you are experiencing pain that isn't going away or is getting worse. As it is possible to grind your teeth while asleep or to be unaware the problem is occurring, it's important to visit a healthcare provider, such as a dentist, to prevent further damage to your oral health. Visit your dentist regularly, as they can spot the signs of teeth grinding during a routine dental exam.

If you notice any signs or symptoms that your teeth grinding is getting worse or not improving, such as facial pain, headaches, jaw pain, or damaged dental restorations, visit your dentist for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment options include mouth guards or dental treatments to repair damage to chipped or worn teeth.

A Quick Review

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a condition where you grind or clench your teeth repeatedly throughout the day or night. Signs and symptoms of teeth grinding include soreness or tension of the jaw, headache, tiredness, tooth pain, and damaged teeth.

Even though teeth grinding can cause your face or jaw muscles to become uncomfortable or painful, there are fortunately a number of ways to naturally relieve the issue. These include behavioral and lifestyle changes, such as relieving stress, making changes to your sleep routine, and avoiding or reducing consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.

If natural remedies are not helpful in reducing the repetitive actions of teeth grinding at night, then it's important to schedule an appointment with a dentist, who can perform a dental exam to diagnose the issue and provide other treatment options for relief.

While teeth grinding may start off as a minor issue, it can progress to a more severe condition if left untreated, so don't ignore your symptoms. Try these natural remedies for relief or contact a healthcare provider if you experience pain or need medical treatment.

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