Teeth Grinding or Clenching at Night: How Do I Stop?

By Dr. Brett Silverman | Feb 25, 2015 | Teeth Grinding
Teeth Grinding or Clenching at Night: How Do I Stop?

(updated March 2024)

Teeth grinding or teeth clenching typically occurs at night. This is an annoying habit, but grinding your teeth can also cause significant and irreversible damage.

If you’ve been grinding your teeth or think you might be grinding them at night, you might be wondering: How do I stop? We will address this question later in this blog post, but first, let’s talk about what teeth grinding is and why people do it.

What is teeth grinding?

When people have a medical condition known as bruxism, they grind or clench their teeth during sleep. This is a common condition. According to the National Sleep Foundation, one survey estimates that eight percent of adults grind their teeth at night, and one study shows that more than a third of parents report symptoms of bruxism in their children.

Teeth grinding is common in children as well — usually when the baby teeth emerge and when the permanent teeth come in — and it’s typically not a habit requiring treatment.

Children’s teeth and jaws change and grow so quickly, and most outgrow it by adolescence. However, if teeth grinding in your kids causes jaw pain, headaches, wearing on the teeth, or other problems, you should consult your dentist.

At Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry in Alpharetta, GA, we regularly see adults and children who are suffering from teeth clenching. We are able to provide guidance and solutions to help our patients overcome their teeth clenching habits.

Why do people grind their teeth?

The causes of teeth grinding are not always known, but are linked to anxiety, stress, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, caffeine, sleep apnea, snoring, and fatigue.

How do you know if you are clenching or grinding your teeth?

If you are suffering from or have any or all of the following symptoms, you may have bruxism:

  • Dull headaches

  • Earaches

  • Jaw pain or soreness

  • Jaw joint disorders

  • Damaged teeth

Many times teeth grinding at night can go unnoticed. Oftentimes, a sleep partner notices that the person beside them is clenching or grinding his or her teeth.

How to stop grinding or clenching your teeth

Many times reducing or eliminating stress can alleviate grinding in adults and children.

You can take the following steps to ease symptoms:

  • Try to relax in the hours before bedtime. Create a relaxing sleep environment and maintain a regular bedtime routine.

  • Use massage and stretching techniques to relax the muscles.

  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga.

  • Consider attending stress counseling.

  • Start and maintain a regular exercise program.

  • Be sure you are drinking enough water.

  • Consider obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants.

  • Avoid or cut back caffeine.

  • Avoid or limit alcohol.

  • Stop chewing on pencils or things other than food and avoid chewing gum.

  • Relax your muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek.

For severe and persistent teeth grinding, the most common treatment is the use of a mouth guard, which is able to protect a person’s teeth at night.

Non-invasive treatment for grinding and clenching

Using a nightguard safeguards the enamel, the outer protective layer of your teeth, and aids in promoting improved jaw alignment to deter teeth clenching and grinding throughout the day.

Upon receiving a nightguard, you’ll be fitted with either an upper or lower guard based on the degree of wear on your teeth. Rest assured, both sets of teeth will receive protection. Additionally, the thickness of your guard will correspond to the severity of your grinding, with lighter grinding requiring a thinner guard.

  • Custom dental nightguards are the perfect solution for teeth grinding at night. These types of mouth guards are made specifically for you and your mouth. Every mouth is different, so it’s important to have one that fits your mouth perfectly.
  • A well-made nightguard will do more than protect your teeth. It will also reduce the force exerted by the jaw muscles, so your bones and ligaments don’t become misaligned.

Stress reduction techniques can help, too

There are numerous measures you can implement independently to reduce stress and alleviate the symptoms associated with grinding and clenching.

  • Consider establishing a soothing bedtime ritual and cultivating a tranquil sleep environment.
  • Exploring massage and stretching methods can promote relaxation and muscle relief.
  • Meditation and yoga are alternative practices that may prove beneficial.
  • Reducing consumption of coffee and alcohol may also be beneficial.
  • Additionally, seeking stress counseling or consulting a healthcare professional about muscle relaxant prescriptions, which can be taken before bedtime, are options worth considering.

Custom mouth guards from our office in Alpharetta

At Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we make customized mouth guards to prevent teeth from sliding against each other. A mouth guard protects the enamel as well as the jaw. And if your teeth grinding is caused by a bite problem, orthodontic treatment will move the teeth back into their proper places to remedy the issue.

Grinding your teeth can be an important dental health problem to address. Chronic grinding can result in fracturing, loosening, or even losing your teeth. Some people who grind their teeth even develop a painful TMJ disorder.

If you experience any of the following:

  • Waking up feeling tight
  • Pain at the top of your head or in your facial area
  • Jaw tenderness
  • Generalized tooth discomfort
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Sensitivity of teeth to hot or cold temperatures
  • Previous remarks about teeth grinding at night

then it is advisable to schedule an appointment with our dental office. Please call our office in Alpharetta to arrange a consultation for teeth grinding treatment options.

Please don’t ignore this potentially serious problem! If you grind your teeth or think you might be grinding them, schedule an appointment today to talk to a dentist.

Call our experienced dentist and staff at 678.389.9000, and we will help you preserve your beautiful smile.