Professional, medically proven treatments for any medical condition are essential, but we all need natural and quick solutions to a lot of our health problems while we can get an appointment with a physician.
This is no different with our dental health, especially in cases of teeth grinding or bruxism, which is a prevalent, although often underreported, condition among individuals of all ages, especially during sleep.
On top of that, bruxism has been linked to sleep disorders, including sleep apnea and insomnia. Given the potential consequences, natural remedies or solutions that are immediately available are crucial.
We’ll aim to provide insights into managing and preventing bruxism through stress reduction, relaxation exercises, and lifestyle changes that you can use. By adopting these natural approaches, individuals may temporarily alleviate bruxism symptoms like painful teeth, sore jaw, or even psychological stress while enhancing their sleep quality and avoiding the worst effects of bruxism.
What is Night Time Teeth Grinding or Sleep Bruxism?
Sleep bruxism, also known as nighttime teeth grinding, is a sleep-related movement disorder characterized by rhythmic or non-rhythmic mandibular activity https://hawkeyegrpcom.stage.site/surprising-health-problems-associduring sleep, including tooth grinding or clenching. One study in 2016 published in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry estimated that 6% to 50% of children suffered from bruxism, while another study from 2018 established that 15% of adolescents and up to 8% of middle-aged adults were regularly affected, meaning that this problem is common, but many times underreported, across the entire population.
The International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICDS-3) indicates the following clinical criteria for the classification of sleep bruxism: “(A) the presence of regular or frequent tooth grinding sounds occurring during sleep and (B) the presence of one or more of the following clinical signs: (1) abnormal tooth wear consistent with the above reports of tooth grinding during sleep and (2) transient morning jaw-muscle pain or fatigue; and/or temporal headache; and/or jaw locking upon awakening consistent with the above reports of tooth grinding during sleep”
Daytime bruxism which is commonly known as awake bruxism, is less common and typically can be better controlled once diagnosed. Usually with behavior modification and habit reversal.
Bruxism can lead to various negative consequences, such as tooth damage, jaw pain, headaches, and disturbed sleep. While the exact causes of sleep bruxism are not fully understood, stress, anxiety, sleep apnea and certain medications have been identified as potential triggers.
Before we head to the natural remedies that can relieve teeth grinding, like stress reduction techniques, we need to explore more about the causes and consequences of sleep bruxism.
Causes of Grinding Teeth at Night
Many factors, such as stress, anxiety, and certain medications, have been identified as potential contributors to the occurrence of bruxism or teeth grinding at night.
Stress and anxiety can lead to increased muscle tension, including in the jaw area, which can result in dental grinding during sleep. In fact, according to a 2022 study published by BioMed Research International, stress is the “most paramount” factor that influences teeth grinding.
Additionally, certain medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, have been associated with bruxism as a side effect, and other medications can disrupt sleep.
To address the causes of teeth grinding at night, patients suffering from it might consider natural remedies and solutions while they can get an official diagnosis and treatment. Many of these are good lifestyle choices, regardless of bruxism, and may include stress-management techniques such as relaxation exercises or mindfulness meditation to reduce anxiety levels.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
Often a clinical diagnosis is required to identify bruxism because bruxism symptoms present differently from person to person. Patients may experience symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, ear aches, face pain or tooth sensitivity.
Teeth grinding can occur during the day or at night, but nighttime grinding is more common and often goes unnoticed because sufferers have no way to realize it until painful symptoms become serious or damage is irreversible.
The following symptoms of nighttime teeth grinding can vary from person to person, but overall can be concerning and may indicate the presence of bruxism.
Damage to Teeth
Damage to teeth caused by night bruxism can result in tooth enamel erosion and fractures.
The constant grinding and clenching of teeth at night can wear down the protective enamel layer, leaving them vulnerable to decay and sensitivity.
The excessive force, which can be upwards of 250 pounds of force, exerted during sleep bruxism episodes can lead to dental fractures and some crooked teeth, which may require restorative treatments. It is crucial to address this issue promptly to prevent further damage.
One effective solution is the use of an occlusal splint, a custom-made device, from a dentist, that fits over the teeth to reduce grinding and clenching. This splint helps to distribute the forces evenly, protecting the teeth and preventing further damage.
Tooth sensitivity can be a common symptom experienced by those suffering from teeth grinding.
All that pressure during teeth grinding can lead to the wearing down of tooth enamel, exposing the underlying dentin and causing tooth sensitivity. This sensitivity may manifest as pain or discomfort with hot, cold, or acidic foods and beverages.
Jaw pain or soreness
Jaw pain or soreness is a common symptom experienced by individuals suffering from bruxism, leading to discomfort and impacting their overall quality of life.
One of the most effective and quick natural remedies to manage jaw pain is applying a warm compress (a hot towel) on the affected area, providing some nice but temporary relief. Relaxation techniques are also useful for stress-induced bruxism, if not a longer-term solution.
It also helps to maintain good oral hygiene, and avoiding hard or chewy foods can help prevent further irritation and pain.
Moving on from the previous subtopic of jaw pain or soreness, we now focus on another common symptom associated with teeth grinding: morning headaches.
It is worth noting that teeth grinding can lead to various sleep disorders, including sleep apnea and insomnia. Studies have shown that individuals who grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to experience morning headaches compared to those who do not engage in this behavior.
It is important to note that morning headaches are a symptom of sleep apnea that may be unrelated to sleep bruxism. Patients with sleep apnea can have reduced oxygen due to insufficient respiration during sleep. If sleep apnea is suspected a clinician should be consulted.
For some sleep apnea patients the grinding and clenching of teeth can cause tension and strain on the head and neck muscles, resulting in headaches upon waking.
Therefore, addressing the underlying issue of teeth grinding through some natural remedies or addressing sleep apnea using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may help alleviate morning headaches and improve overall sleep quality.
Evaluating the impact of bruxism on adjacent structures, it is important to note that individuals who grind their teeth during sleep may also experience earaches as a result of the increased on the powerful chewing muscles in the head and neck region.
This is because bruxism is really overuse of the jaw closing muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ connects the jawbone to the skull and is responsible for the movement of the jaw. The ear and related structures are found very close to the TMJ.
Excessive grinding of the teeth can cause inflammation and pain in this area, spreading and leading to sharp penetrating earaches which are secondary to bruxism which is the primary cause of the inflamation.
Treatment options for earaches from bruxism often involve relaxation exercises and the use of a dental splint or mouth guard to release muscle tension in the head and neck region.
Facial pain or discomfort
When individuals experience facial pain or discomfort, consider clenching or grinding of teeth. Facial pain or discomfort can present as soreness in the jaw muscles, headaches, or tenderness in the temples, and this discomfort is often a result of the excessive force exerted on the jaw muscles during teeth grinding.
The repetitive motion of grinding can lead to muscle fatigue, inflammation, and pain in the surrounding facial muscles. This pain is often misdiagnosed as tension type headache or migraine.
Some remedies include massages, warm compresses, or even physical therapy if the impact on facial muscles has gotten too extreme.
Sleep disorders or disrupted sleep
Sleep disorders, like obstructive sleep apnea, can significantly impact an individual’s overall well-being and quality of life, leading to severe stress-related conditions.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition characterized by a partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep, leading to repeated pauses in breathing.
This interruption in breathing can cause the individual to awaken briefly throughout the night, resulting in fragmented sleep patterns and poor-quality sleep.
So this can exacerbate teeth grinding and further contribute to sleep disturbances.
And we now know that teeth grinding during sleep can lead to various complications, including facial pain and discomfort.
In cases like these, addressing the underlying sleep disorder is crucial in managing teeth grinding and promoting better sleep.
Grinding noises at night
Teeth grinding at night can result in disruptive noises that can disturb both the individual and their sleep partner. And although grinding noises at night, loud enough for a sleep partner to hear, is a sign of severe bruxism, it is also one of the symptoms that most help people to realize they have the disorder.
Stress reduction techniques such as meditation or relaxation exercises, avoiding stimulating substances like caffeine or alcohol before bed, and using a mouth guard or dental splint, are some of the most important actions to undertake immediately after becoming aware of this symptom.
Cheek or tongue bites inside the mouth
Cheek or tongue bites inside the mouth are other potential consequences of teeth grinding on oral health.
When individuals grind their teeth, they exert excessive force on the muscles and tissues in the mouth, leading to accidental bites on the cheek or tongue. These bites can be painful and may result in sores or ulcers.
Furthermore, the continuous grinding motion can irritate the delicate tissues in the mouth, causing inflammation and discomfort. The impact of teeth grinding on oral health should not be overlooked, as it can lead to long-term problems such as gum disease and tooth loss.
Effects of Teeth Grinding on Your Health
The health consequences of teeth grinding can include severe tooth damage, loose teeth, jaw pain, facial muscle pain, loss of teeth, along with headaches or migraines.
Headaches are also a common side effect of bruxism, as the tension and stress placed on the muscles of the head and neck can trigger painful headaches. Chronic migraines can also develop if bruxism is left unattended.
Furthermore, teeth grinding significantly impacts sleep quality and overall health for those who suffer from it. One of the most immediate effects is the disruption it causes to sleep patterns. Grinding teeth can generate loud noises, which can disturb both the person who grinds their teeth and their sleeping partner. As a result, individuals with bruxism often experience fragmented sleep and reduced sleep quality, which can lead to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
The excessive pressure exerted during teeth grinding can also strain the jaw joint, causing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. TMJ disorders can worsen jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty in opening and closing the mouth properly.
Seeking treatment for teeth grinding is essential to mitigate these health consequences and promote better sleep and oral health.
Natural Remedies for Teeth Grinding at Night
Let’s now focus on natural remedies for teeth grinding at night. These remedies have been suggested as potential solutions for reducing bruxism, which is characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep.
The remedies are diverse and include everything from the consumption of Vitamin C and Vitamin B-rich foods, herbal and chamomile teas, warm milk with turmeric, magnesium-rich foods, and peanut butter. But importantly, these solutions have been proven to be effective in a large portion of the population suffering from nighttime bruxism.
Vitamin C and Vitamin B-Rich Foods
Citrus fruits and leafy greens are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B, which have been suggested as potential natural remedies for teeth grinding at night. Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant properties and its role in collagen synthesis, which is important for maintaining the health of the teeth and gums.
Vitamin B, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of the nervous system. Some studies have indicated that deficiencies in these vitamins may contribute to the development of bruxism. However, more research is needed to establish a clear link between vitamin deficiencies and teeth grinding. Nonetheless, ensuring your vitamin C and B levels are adequate is always a good habit.
It is important to note that incorporating vitamin-rich foods into one’s diet can have numerous health benefits beyond potentially reducing teeth grinding, thus serving as a holistic approach to overall well-being.
Herbal and Chamomile Teas
Chamomile and herbal teas are often recommended as natural remedies for various health issues, including sleep disorders and teeth grinding.
Chamomile tea, in particular, is known for its calming properties and has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Studies have shown that chamomile tea contains compounds that can reduce anxiety and stress, which are common triggers for teeth grinding at night.
Additionally, herbal teas such as valerian root and passionflower have sedative effects, helping to induce a sense of calmness and aiding in better sleep. These teas can be consumed before bedtime to help relax the mind and body, potentially reducing the occurrence of teeth grinding during sleep.
However, it is important to note that individual results may vary, and it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before using herbal teas for teeth grinding.
Warm Milk with Turmeric
Warm milk with turmeric has been suggested as a potential remedy for promoting relaxation and improving sleep quality. This remedy involves heating a glass of milk and adding a pinch of turmeric powder before consuming it before bedtime. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been used in traditional medicine for various purposes.
It is believed to have calming effects and may help in reducing stress and anxiety, thus facilitating better sleep. To enhance the relaxation effect, individuals may also consider using a heating pad and incorporating the scent of lavender, which is known for its calming properties.
While there is limited scientific evidence on warm milk with turmeric for promoting sleep, incorporating these practices into one’s bedtime routine may contribute to a more restful night’s sleep. And the drink is delicious!
Magnesium-rich foods have been suggested as a potential dietary intervention for improving sleep quality and reducing sleep disorders. Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in various physiological functions, including the regulation of sleep. Several studies have indicated a positive association between magnesium intake and sleep quality.
Magnesium aids in activating GABA receptors, which promote relaxation and sleep. It also plays a crucial role in regulating melatonin, a sleep-wake cycle hormone.
Foods rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes. Incorporating these foods into one’s diet may contribute to better sleep quality and potentially alleviate sleep disorders.
Peanut butter, a commonly consumed food product, has been suggested as a potential dietary intervention for improving sleep quality due to its nutrient composition.
Peanut butter is a good source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid converted into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep. Serotonin is further converted into melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles.
Another plus is that peanut butter contains magnesium, a mineral that we just established has been associated with improved sleep quality.
However, it is recommended to consume peanut butter in moderation as part of a balanced diet, along with other sleep-promoting foods and healthy sleep habits, for optimal sleep health.
Heating Pad or Ice Pack Therapy
Heat therapy and cold therapy are commonly used interventions for the management of various musculoskeletal conditions and injuries.
Heat therapy, also known as thermotherapy, involves the application of heat to the affected area. This therapy can be beneficial in reducing pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms and improving blood flow and tissue healing. Heat therapy works by increasing blood flow, promoting relaxation, and easing stiffness in muscles and joints.
Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, involves the application of cold to the affected area. This therapy works by numbing the area, reducing inflammation, and decreasing nerve activity. Cold therapy can be beneficial in reducing pain and swelling, particularly in acute injuries.
Heat and cold therapy can be used in conjunction with other treatment modalities to provide relief and aid in managing musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. This is the reason why many pain-relief ointments have both hot and cold effects.
Relaxation Techniques and Stress Management
Relaxation techniques and stress management strategies have been suggested as natural solutions for addressing nighttime sleep bruxism. These techniques can include meditation, yoga, warm baths before bed, and even regular walks and exercise.
Research has shown that these practices can help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation, potentially alleviating the symptoms of teeth grinding and improving overall sleep quality. Let’s dive into them a bit deeper:
Meditation has been shown to decrease stress levels and promote relaxation, which may potentially reduce the frequency and severity of teeth grinding episodes.
Studies have indicated that regular meditation practice can lead to a reduction in perceived stress and an improvement in overall well-being. Turn on a lavender-scented candle or put on relaxing music, and just meditate for as long as you can.
Yoga, a mind-body practice originating in ancient India, incorporates physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. These elements have been found to have potential therapeutic effects on various health conditions. It has been suggested that yoga may help alleviate symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
And yoga practice has been shown to improve flexibility, strength, and balance, promoting overall physical and mental well-being. Its holistic approach makes yoga beneficial for those seeking to serve others by promoting health and wellness.
Warm salt baths before bed
If you don’t feel like stretching or breaking a sweat late at night, another natural solution for nighttime teeth grinding is warm salt baths before bed.
Warm salt baths have been suggested as a relaxing and soothing remedy for reducing stress and tension, which are often underlying causes of bruxism.
The warm water and salt combination can help relax the muscles and promote a sense of calmness, potentially reducing the occurrence of teeth grinding during sleep.
Walks or exercise
Engaging in regular physical activity, such as going for walks or participating in exercise, has been proposed as a potential method to alleviate the symptoms associated with bruxism and improve sleep quality. Exercise promotes overall well-being and has been shown to reduce stress levels, which may reduce teeth grinding.
Physical activity can help tire the body and promote relaxation, leading to better sleep, as you’re essentially tiring yourself out to avoid feeling stress or anything at all before going to bed.
Incorporating regular exercise into one’s routine may serve as a beneficial natural solution for individuals experiencing bruxism and seeking improved sleep quality.
Jaw Exercises for Strengthening Jaw Muscles
Research suggests that performing specific exercises targeting the jaw muscles can be beneficial to improve jaw muscle strength and reduce the likelihood of teeth grinding. These exercises aim to strengthen the muscles involved in jaw movements, such as the masseter and temporalis muscles.
One such exercise is the jaw opener exercise, which involves opening the mouth as wide as possible and holding the stretch for a few seconds before closing it slowly.
Another exercise is the jaw press exercise, where gentle pressure is applied to the chin using the palm of the hand while the jaw is slowly closed against the resistance.
These exercises can help increase muscle endurance and reduce muscle tension in the jaw, potentially mitigating the symptoms of teeth grinding.
It is important to note that these exercises should be performed under the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure proper technique and avoid any potential harm.
Avoid Stimulants at Nighttime
Avoiding stimulants at nighttime can be beneficial in managing bruxism. Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine have been found to exacerbate teeth grinding and contribute to sleep disorders.
Several studies from as recent as 2023, including one conducted by Polish researchers and another by Japanese researchers, found that individuals who consume higher amounts of caffeine are more likely to experience bruxism. Additionally, a survey conducted by Ohayon et al. (2001) revealed a significant association between nicotine use and sleep bruxism.
Therefore, minimizing or eliminating the intake of stimulants, particularly before bedtime, may help reduce the severity of teeth grinding and promote better sleep hygiene.
Consideration of these lifestyle modifications may prove valuable for individuals seeking natural remedies for bruxism.
Importance of Occlusal Splint or Mouth Guards Treatment
The use of occlusal splints or mouth guards is considered an important treatment option for individuals experiencing nighttime teeth grinding or bruxism.
Occlusal splints or mouth guards are designed to provide a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing them from grinding against each other during sleep. These devices help to alleviate the symptoms of bruxism, such as tooth wear, jaw pain, and headaches.
By reducing the force of the grinding and providing a cushioning effect, occlusal splints or mouth guards can help improve sleep quality and prevent further damage to the teeth and jaw.
These natural remedies are good options for long-term and short-term relief in cases of mild bruxism or for those who are only developing a teeth-grinding problem. But it’s important for individuals experiencing bruxism to consult with a dental professional to determine the most appropriate treatment option for their specific needs.