How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth at Night

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.

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.

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!