How to Manage Bruxism with Diet and Exercise

Have you considered how your diet and exercise routine could be contributing to your teeth-grinding problem? Many people are unaware of the connection between their lifestyle choices and bruxism. Exploring the intersection of diet and exercise in managing bruxism unveils a fascinating avenue for individuals seeking proactive approaches to this common dental condition.


Bruxism can be a painful and frustrating condition, affecting millions of people worldwide. While traditional treatments like mouthguards and stress management techniques can help, incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine may also play a key role in managing bruxism.

By understanding how dietary choices and fitness routines can influence bruxism, individuals are empowered to take control of their oral health holistically.


Stay tuned as we uncover the intricate connection between lifestyle habits and bruxism management.


What is Bruxism


Bruxism is a condition characterized by the habitual but unconscious or involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth.


There are two main types of bruxism:


  • Awake bruxism, or daytime teeth grinding, occurs during the day and involves involuntary teeth-grinding, which may be easier to treat since the patient is more aware of it.
  • Sleep bruxism, on the other hand, happens at night and is harder to detect and diagnose due to occurring during sleep. It is less common but also harder to diagnose due to its nature, being present at night and while the patient is unconscious.

While both types involve teeth grinding and clenching, their causes are generally different. Sleep bruxism is often linked to sleep disorders, while awake bruxism may be a response to stress or anxiety.


While children are more susceptible to bruxism, it’s still a common affliction in many adults, especially in modern life, as anxiety and stress become more prevalent.


woman grinding teeth

Symptoms of Bruxism


Even moderate teeth grinding can lead to various detrimental consequences if left unaddressed.


Symptoms of both types of bruxism may include worn-down teeth, tight jaw muscles, jaw pain, headaches, and pain in the temporomandibular joint.


Meanwhile, symptoms of sleep bruxism specifically can include poor quality of sleep, morning headaches, and morning jaw pain.


The continuous grinding of teeth can not only damage them but also strain the jaw muscles, leading to discomfort and difficulty in opening and closing the mouth throughout the day.


Without intervention, untreated bruxism can even result in severe pain, fractures in teeth, and even the need for extensive dental work.


Common Risk Factors for Bruxism


While it’s not completely known if there’s a single factor that always leads to bruxism, there are several that are constantly present in most patients who suffer from the condition or unhealthy habits.


Some factors are stress, anxiety, misaligned teeth, certain psychiatric medications, temporomandibular joint disorders, sleep apnea, and even lifestyle and dietary habits.


A person’s diet is increasingly seen as another factor when developing bruxism. From being deficient in calcium or magnesium to the amount of caffeine intake throughout the day, much of what we ingest daily can also exacerbate tooth grinding.


Understanding these risk factors can aid in developing personalized approaches to manage and alleviate bruxism symptoms effectively.


Diet and Lifestyle Factors That Can Lead to Bruxism


Several lifestyle factors can contribute to the development of bruxism. Stress and anxiety are major culprits, as mentioned above, along with habits like excessive caffeine intake and smoking or simply not getting enough vitamins and minerals.


Among the main lifestyle and dietary habits that can increase the risk of bruxism are:


Stress And Anxiety


Experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety can significantly worsen and result in bruxism.


As proven by multiple studies, stress and anxiety can lead to muscle tension, especially in the jaw area, increasing the likelihood of awake bruxism episodes.


Individuals facing sleep disorders due to stress may also be more prone to grinding their teeth during sleep.


How to Treat: Managing stress through relaxation techniques, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene can help reduce the incidence of bruxism.


It is essential for individuals experiencing bruxism to address underlying stressors and anxiety triggers to alleviate the impact on their oral health. Seeking professional mental health help from either a psychiatrist or therapist to manage stress and anxiety can complement other bruxism treatment strategies effectively and holistically.


Too Much Caffeine


High caffeine consumption can significantly contribute to the development and exacerbation of bruxism.


Caffeine, commonly found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks, can interfere with sleep patterns, leading to increased stress and anxiety, which are known triggers for bruxism. Moreover, caffeine consumption can heighten muscle activity, including the muscles involved in teeth grinding.


How to Address: It is essential for individuals experiencing bruxism to monitor their caffeine intake and consider reducing consumption, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.




Smoking not only affects overall health but also has detrimental effects on oral health. Individuals who smoke are at a higher risk of developing oral health issues such as gum disease, which can further worsen bruxism.


Additionally, smoking can lead to increased stress and anxiety, which are known triggers for bruxism behavior.


How to Address: Quitting smoking can significantly improve oral health and reduce the intensity of bruxism episodes. By addressing smoking habits, individuals can take a proactive step towards managing bruxism and preventing related disorders.


smoking a cigarette


Vitamin Deficiency


Vitamin deficiency occurs when the body lacks essential amounts of certain vitamins, crucial nutrients needed for proper bodily functions like metabolism, growth, and overall health maintenance.


Insufficient levels of specific vitamins can result in various health issues and symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, impaired immune function, cognitive decline, skin problems, and anemia.


Common deficiencies include vitamin D, B12, C, and iron. Likewise, deficiencies in specific vitamins and minerals have been associated with various neurological disorders, potentially including sleep bruxism.


One crucial nutrient linked to bruxism is vitamin D, as established in previous studies like this one from 2021. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased muscle activity during sleep, potentially leading to grinding teeth at night.


Additionally, inadequate levels of certain amino acids, lipids, and carbohydrates in the body can affect the health of teeth and jaw muscles, further aggravating bruxism symptoms.


How to Treat it: Maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D, and paying attention to acid levels can help support overall dental and muscular health, potentially reducing the severity of bruxism. Some vitamin D-rich foods are fatty fish like salmon and sardines. They’re not just delicious but also rich in vitamin D and other essential nutrients, like fatty acids.


Ensuring adequate nutrient intake is essential for promoting optimal oral health and reducing the impact of bruxism.


Dietary Fiber Deficiency


A dietary fiber deficiency can turn out to be the first step in a chain of events in your body that can lead to bruxism.


This is because a lack of dietary fiber can lead to digestive issues and imbalances in the gut microbiome, which in turn can affect the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients like calcium and magnesium.


These nutrients are important for maintaining healthy teeth and muscles, including the muscles involved in chewing.


How to Treat: To treat bruxism related to dietary fiber deficiency, it is important to address the root cause by increasing fiber intake through dietary changes. This can include consuming more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, which are all good sources of dietary fiber. Additionally, it is important to stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet to support overall digestive health.


Magnesium and Calcium Deficiencies


Insufficient levels of magnesium and calcium in the body, stemming from various dietary and lifestyle factors, are recognized as significant contributors to the onset and worsening of bruxism, a condition marked by teeth grinding and clenching. Two studies published in 2023 and another in 2021 found that individuals with bruxism often have lower levels of these essential minerals in their bodies.


Magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle relaxation, while calcium is vital for muscle function. Deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to increased muscle tension, particularly around the jaw, causing individuals to grind their teeth at night.


How to Treat: Ensuring an adequate intake of magnesium and calcium through diet or supplements under the guidance of a healthcare provider may help alleviate bruxism symptoms over time.


Certain foods that are abundant in calcium are dairy items like milk, cheese, and yogurt, along with leafy greens such as broccoli and kale. Nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes, and dark chocolate are examples of foods packed with magnesium. Adding these items to your meals can aid in restoring calcium and magnesium levels in the body.




Alcohol consumption is a significant dietary and lifestyle factor that can contribute to the development and exacerbation of bruxism, a condition characterized by teeth grinding and clenching. Alcohol’s sedative effects can disrupt the natural sleep cycle, leading to increased muscle activity in the jaw during sleep. This heightened muscle activity can worsen bruxism symptoms, causing more frequent and intense teeth grinding.


Additionally, alcohol can dehydrate the body, reducing saliva production that normally helps protect the teeth from damage caused by grinding.


Stop Drinking: For individuals experiencing bruxism, limiting alcohol intake, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime, may help alleviate symptoms and promote better oral health.


Acidic Foods


Excessive consumption of acidic foods is a notable dietary factor that can worsen symptoms of bruxism. Acidic foods can lead to enamel erosion, weakening the teeth and making them more susceptible to grinding forces.


What to Avoid:  Citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, and certain beverages like sodas are examples of acidic foods that individuals with bruxism should moderate in their diet. These foods can increase the acidity in the mouth, creating an environment that is harmful to dental health.


Poor Sleep Hygiene or Sleep Disorders


Bruxism can be influenced by poor sleep hygiene or sleep disorders, reflecting how diet and lifestyle factors contribute to this dental issue.


Poor sleep hygiene refers to a series of habits that worsen your quality of sleep, from drinking too much alcohol before bed, looking at too many screens, or constantly staying up too late and disrupting your sleep cycle with irregular sleep schedules and overall inadequate rest.


Additionally, sleep disorders like sleep apnea have been associated with an increased prevalence of bruxism.


How to Address: Addressing these issues through establishing a consistent sleep routine, creating a relaxing bedtime environment, and seeking treatment for sleep disorders can play a significant role in managing bruxism.


Too Much Sugar


Excessive sugar intake can lead to an imbalance in the body, affecting neurotransmitters that regulate muscle movement and potentially triggering bruxism episodes.


Additionally, sugary foods and beverages can contribute to dental issues such as cavities and tooth decay, which may exacerbate bruxism symptoms.


Stop Sugar Intake: To manage bruxism effectively, individuals should consider reducing their sugar consumption and opting for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.


Chewing Gum and Chewy Foods


High consumption of chewing gum and chewy foods can impact teeth grinding and clenching by exerting prolonged pressure on the jaw muscles.


Chewing gum excessively or consuming sticky foods can overwork the jaw muscles, leading to increased tension and potential aggravation of bruxism symptoms.


The continuous chewing motion required when consuming these items can strain the muscles and joints involved in jaw movement, contributing to the development or worsening of bruxism.


Avoid Chewing Gum:  Individuals experiencing bruxism may benefit from reducing their intake of chewing gum and sticky foods to alleviate some of the pressure on their jaw muscles. This will also help lower their intake of sugar, further helping them avoid foods that lead to teeth grinding and clenching.


How Exercise And a Healthier Lifestyle Helps Manage Bruxism


In addition to a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C, regular exercise can also be beneficial in strengthening your jaw muscles and reducing stress and anxiety levels, which are common triggers for bruxism.


  • Releases Endorphins: Engaging in physical activity can help release endorphins, which are known to alleviate tension and promote relaxation, potentially mitigating the impact of bruxism on your oral health.
  • Stay Hydrated: Staying well-hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water is essential in preventing dehydration, a factor that has been linked to increased episodes of bruxism.
  • Sleep Heals Stress: Furthermore, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and practicing good sleep hygiene are essential in improving sleep quality. Adequate rest and relaxation are key components in addressing the root causes of bruxism, such as stress and anxiety, and incorporating exercise into your routine can further support these efforts.

By taking a holistic approach to managing bruxism through a combination of healthy habits, including exercise, you can work towards alleviating this condition and enhancing your overall well-being.

woman exercising


Other Common Bruxism Treatment Options


Enhancing the effectiveness of bruxism treatment often involves exploring various common options beyond dietary and lifestyle adjustments.


Night Guards or Splints: One common treatment option is the use of night guards, mouth guards, or splints. These devices help protect the teeth from grinding and clenching during sleep, reducing the damage caused by bruxism.


Physical Therapy: Additionally, physical therapy may be recommended to relax the jaw muscles and improve overall jaw function.


Medication: In some cases, muscle relaxants or medications for anxiety and sleep disorders may be prescribed to manage bruxism symptoms.


Biofeedback Therapy: Biofeedback therapy is a holistic approach to treating bruxism. It aims to directly correct the teeth grinding and clenching habit by alerting individuals with sleep bruxism or awake bruxism every time their muscles tense around the jaw. This will help them become aware of their clenching or grinding habits and also eliminate bruxism as an unconscious coping mechanism for anxiety and stress.


It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider or a dentist to determine the most suitable treatment option based on individual needs and the severity of the condition.


Ask Your Health Care Provider for a Holistic Approach to Treating Bruxism


Adopting a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients and incorporating regular exercise into your routine can play a crucial role in managing bruxism as part of any holistic treatment, which is the only way to truly eliminate bruxism as a major issue in your life.


By avoiding acidic and sugary foods, as well as stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, you can help regulate muscle movement and reduce the risk of teeth grinding.


These lifestyle changes, along with other common treatment options, can contribute to better oral health and overall well-being.

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