Stop Grinding Your Teeth at Night

Chronic teeth grinding can damage your teeth and cause tooth loss

A mouthguard may prevent tooth damage, but it won’t stop grinding at night

Do you frequently grind or clench your teeth?

This involuntary or habitual action is called bruxism, and, depending on its severity, it can produce symptoms ranging from mild jaw pain to damaged teeth or even a cracked jaw. Since it happens while you’re asleep, you may not be aware you’re doing it, but the typical symptoms are unmistakable. Headaches, toothaches or a sore jaw, especially in the morning, could be an indication that you grind or clench your teeth during the night.

While the precise cause of bruxism is unknown, it’s believed that stress and anxiety, or bad alignment of the teeth and/or missing teeth, may be significant factors in the development of this response.

Why Do You Grind Your Teeth?

Try to find the reason why you grind your teeth, as it could help you determine a course of action. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Reduce your stress by practising relaxation techniques, especially before bed
  • Refrain from chewing gum, or on objects such 
 as straws, toothpicks or pencils

  • Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks after noon to promote a better sleep
  • Relax your jaw muscles before bedtime by applying a warm cloth to your jaw.

If these suggestions do not work, consult your dentist, who may recommend that you wear a mouthguard while you sleep. While this appliance may prevent further damage to your teeth, it will not necessarily stop you from clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth.

Choosing a Mouthguard

  • Choose a custom-fit appliance rather than an over-the-counter device
  • Choose a hard night guard that fits your upper 
or lower teeth (consult your dentist).

Untreated, chronic teeth grinding can damage your teeth and cause tooth loss. In extreme cases it can even change the appearance of your face. If you suspect you grind your teeth or clench your jaw at night, talk to your dentist.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.