Sleep bruxism – the medical term for clenching and gnashing your teeth during the night – can lead to health problems if left unchecked. Here's how to stop it.
You will need
- Dentist or family doctor
- Stress reduction
- Limited alcohol and caffeine
- Mouth guard
- Side or stomach sleeping
- Smoking-cessation program (optional)
Step 1 Know the signs Know the signs of sleep bruxism: Worn down, loose, or sensitive teeth; waking up with a headache or sore jaw; tongue indentations; and chewed-up patches on the inside of your cheeks. If you notice these, see your dentist. An abnormal bite and crooked teeth are sometimes the problems.
Bed partners are often the first to notice their companion’s teeth grinding.
Step 2 Consider other sleep problems Consider other sleep problems, like loud snoring interrupted by pauses that are followed by gasping for breath or choking. These are signs of a condition called sleep apnea, and many sufferers also grind their teeth. See a doctor if these symptoms apply to you.
Step 3 Reduce stress If you – like many sufferers – believe your nocturnal gnashing is due to stress, take steps to reduce it: Work out more, meditate, or learn some deep breathing exercises.
Step 4 Watch your drinking Watch your alcohol and caffeine intake. Too much of either has been linked to teeth grinding.
If you smoke, try to quit; smoking may increase your risk of developing sleep bruxism.
Step 5 Get a mouth guard Try wearing a mouth guard at night. It won’t prevent grinding, but it will protect your teeth. Find them at drug stores and sporting goods stores. For a more comfortable fit, ask your dentist to customize one for you.
Step 6 Sleep on your side Sleep on your stomach or your side. Back sleeping may contribute to grinding. Sweet dreams!
Approximately 8 percent of U.S. adults grind their teeth at night.