Many people clench their jaw or grind their teeth while sleeping. Also known as bruxism, grinding your teeth may not be harmful every time you do it, but it can wear down your teeth and lead to other oral health problems if you do it frequently. Knowing some home remedies and seeking regular dental care if you have sleep bruxism is essential.
Natural remedies to ease teeth grinding include watching your diet, drinking warm milk, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine. You can also use essential oils and aromatherapy to relieve stress or massage your jaw with lavender oils. If the issue persists, seek professional medical care.
As you can see, there are several at-home remedies to try if you’re struggling with bruxism. Let’s take a closer look at some of the options, so that you can hopefully find one that helps with your symptoms. In some cases, professional medical care will, however, be needed.
What Causes Bruxism?
Although there’s no specific cause of bruxism, teeth grinding is often associated with anxiety, stress, and genetics.
When one gets stressed, the body builds up a lot of tension throughout the day. People with sleep bruxism may grind their teeth when sleeping as a way to release the tension.
Bruxism is also linked to sleep problems and eating disorders such as sleep paralysis, obstructive apnea, and ADHD. Some drugs like antidepressants, nicotine, alcohol, and illicit substances may also cause sleep bruxism.
People with poor sleeping habits and misaligned teeth may also be more susceptible to teeth grinding. No matter the reason behind it, sleep bruxism can have significant effects on your overall health.
What Are the Effects of Bruxism?
When left untreated, teeth grinding can erode the teeth and make chewing difficult or even painful. Teeth crowns, fillings, or implants can break or crack over time, causing discomfort and extra repair costs.
Teeth grinding can cause teeth to loosen, break, or fall out in extreme circumstances, and frequent grinding can eventually reduce teeth to nubs. Severe teeth grinding can disrupt the jaws, develop or exacerbate temporomandibular disorder (TMD), and, in worst cases, alter facial appearance.
Natural Remedies for Teeth Grinding
Recognizing sleep bruxism as an issue is the first step in treatment, although this can be much easier said than done. If you have any doubts, consider having your partner keep an eye on you while you sleep, investing in a sleep tracker (on Amazon), or seeing a dentist or doctor for an official diagnosis.
Although bruxism is common in children and young adults, some middle-aged and older adults also grind their teeth when asleep. If you or your loved one is experiencing mild to moderate signs of bruxism, below are some natural solutions to the problem.
Be Mindful of Your Diet
Diet plays a significant role in the management of bruxism. Be cautious about eating sticky, hard-to-chew foods like peanut butter, and avoid hard foods like nuts, popcorn, and candies.
Eating foods high in magnesium, such as fish, yogurt, dark green vegetables, and brown rice, may help reduce sleep inflammation.
Sweat It Out
If you don’t exercise much, try including some workouts in your weekly routine. Exercising helps reduce the stress that causes teeth grinding and ensures you stay healthy.
Keep Off Alcohol and Caffeine
Avoiding caffeinated and alcoholic beverages can help with sleep bruxism. These compounds often disrupt normal sleep patterns, activating jaw muscles to cause teeth grinding.
Drinking Warm Milk With Tumeric
If you’re having trouble sleeping because of teeth grinding, drinking warm milk with turmeric may help. This combination usually works because turmeric has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and tryptophan, an amino acid in milk, calms the nerves.
Drink a glass of turmeric milk daily before bedtime for the best results. You can add honey to this mixture for increased palatability.
Use Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
Most people who grind their teeth in their sleep attribute it to stress, which can be alleviated with the help of essential oils. Commonly used essential oils for aromatherapy include:
The sedative effects of these oils can help you relax and fall asleep. Consider investing in an essential oil diffuser (on Amazon) as a natural remedy for your nightly teeth grinding.
Apply Lavender Oil and Massage the Jaw
A nightly routine of massaging a few drops of lavender oil into the bottom of your jaw might help alleviate any stress that may have built up unconsciously over the day. In addition, when your mouth moves in a circular motion, you’ll be less likely to clench your teeth before bed.
Exercises such as yoga are particularly effective in reducing the inflammatory symptoms of sleep bruxism. You can ease the tension in your face that causes teeth grinding while sleeping by regularly practicing yoga positions that focus on stretching the jaw, neck, and mouth area.
Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
Research into the benefits of mindfulness for mental health has grown steadily over the years, with many pointing to the effectiveness of breathing exercises and meditation in reducing stress and anxiety.
Studies indicate that listening to soothing noises during meditation, such as ocean waves, raindrops, or traditional white noise, can help relax the autonomic nervous system, aiding in slowing breathing, reducing the heart rate, and improving sleep quality.
Drink Herbal Tea
Drinking non-caffeinated herbal tea can help relax the mind and body, alleviating the pent-up sensations of stress that often accompany nighttime teeth grinding.
Use a Nighttime Mouth Guard
Although bite guards (on Amazon) might make you think of a contact sports player, they help prevent severe tooth damage during teeth-grinding.
They do this by separating the upper and lower sets of teeth as you sleep, reducing the impact of teeth clenching.
Use a Hot Compress on the Jaw
Teeth, jaw, and neck muscles can benefit from the regular application of heat using a hot compress (on Amazon), towel, or heating pad.
The heat helps enhance blood supply to those areas, increasing circulation and, eventually, lowering the risk of damage from teeth grinding in your sleep.
Stretch Your Jaw Muscles
You can alleviate the discomfort of teeth grinding and keep it from recurring by performing specific muscle stretches. Try keeping a space between your upper and lower teeth to prevent grinding and clenching. Unless you’re chewing, you should strive to maintain this position throughout the day.
You can work out your jaws by opening the mouth as wide as is comfortable and bringing the tongue to the front teeth. This helps relax the jaw muscles that cause bruxism.
How Do I Know Which Remedy Will Work for Me?
Finding the most effective natural treatment for your teeth grinding may take some experimentation.
You should test out each treatment option separately, keeping a sleep diary to record how each one affects your life and routine and ultimately determining which treatments are most effective.
Other Approaches for Treating Bruxism
If the above natural remedies aren’t doing the trick, other approaches you can use to prevent severe teeth damage and relieve discomfort include:
- Dental correction: When tooth wear causes sensitivity and inability to chew, a dentist can help reshape the chewing surfaces.
- Behavior changes: Change the teeth grinding behavior by practicing the right jaw and mouth position.
- Anxiety and stress management: You can relieve bruxism from stress-related causes by learning relaxation techniques.
- Biofeedback: Biofeedback uses monitoring processes and tools to teach you how to control jaw muscles.
Some of the medications that can help treat bruxism are:
- Stress and anxiety medications: Doctors may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants to help you deal with the underlying causes of bruxism.
- Botox injections: Botox or botulinum toxin injections can help people with severe bruxism.
- Muscle relaxants: Doctors may prescribe a muscle relaxant for you during bedtime.
Medical practitioners may also offer treatment and medicines for sleeping disorders like sleep apnea and medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).