While dental devices such as mouthguards can help to prevent tooth damage, there are also natural remedies that can help reduce grinding of teeth during sleep.
For instance, some muscle stretching exercises can help minimize the discomfort associated with bruxism and prevent it from happening again. Two well-known techniques are:
- Mindful Teeth Placement: This requires you to maintain a space between your upper and lower teeth to minimize grinding or clenching, including when chewing.
- Jaw Exercise: This exercise will help you to relax your jaw muscles. It’s done by expanding your mouth as wide as you can comfortably, before attempting to touch your front teeth with your tongue.
- Warm compress: If you’re clenching your teeth involuntarily, you could also apply a warm compress to help relax the affected muscles and boost blood circulation in the area. To do this, simply lie down and place a heating pad on one side of your face. Use a warm compress for 15 minutes and then switch sides.
In addition, you can try the following remedies to prevent teeth grinding naturally over the long-term:
A. Stress reducing techniques
Stress is one of the most common causes of teeth grinding at night. When we are stressed, our bodies tend to hold onto tension, which can be expressed through teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Stress also causes the release of certain hormones, such as cortisol, which tend to increase muscle tension and exacerbate teeth grinding.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, exercise, and yoga to help reduce stress and anxiety and prevent teeth grinding at night and the associated complications:
Meditation involves focusing your attention on a specific object or activity, such as your breath or a mantra. It has been shown to reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation, which can help reduce teeth grinding.
Exercise promotes the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers that can help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation. It also helps to reduce the levels of cortisol in the body, which can contribute to teeth grinding.
Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Several studies have shown that practicing yoga can help reduce muscle tension and improve overall well-being, which can help prevent teeth grinding.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
PMR is a relaxation technique that involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body. This technique helps to reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation, which can be particularly helpful for those who grind their teeth at night.
B. Improving sleep hygiene
The ADA also recommends improving sleep hygiene to prevent teeth grinding at night. Sleep hygiene refers to a set of practices and habits that promote healthy and restful sleep.
Here are some ways to implement this:
Establish a regular sleep schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps to regulate the body’s internal clock and improve the quality of sleep.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Develop a relaxing routine before bedtime, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music. This helps to signal to the body that it is time to sleep and promotes relaxation.
Create a comfortable sleep environment
Ensure that the sleep environment is quiet, dark, and cool. Use comfortable bedding and a comfortable mattress to promote restful sleep.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. Both can disrupt sleep and contribute to teeth grinding.
Reduce screen time
Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers before bed. The blue light emitted by these devices can disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle and contribute to teeth grinding.
C. Dietary modifications
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends dietary modifications such as reducing caffeine and alcohol intake and incorporating foods that contain magnesium and calcium, which can help relax the muscles and reduce teeth grinding.
Here are some dietary tips that can help:
Avoid or limit stimulants
Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can contribute to teeth grinding by increasing arousal levels and triggering an overactive sympathetic nervous system, which can lead to increased muscle tension, including in the jaw.
When muscles are tense, they are more likely to spasm and involuntarily contract, which can result in teeth grinding.
These stimulants can also disrupt sleep patterns and cause sleep disturbances, and increase anxiety levels, which contribute to teeth grinding.
Overall, it is best to limit or avoid stimulants such as coffee and nicotine if you are experiencing teeth grinding. Reducing your intake of these substances can help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation, which can help prevent teeth grinding and its associated complications.
Increase magnesium intake
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in muscle relaxation. Increasing magnesium intake through diet or supplements can help reduce muscle tension and prevent teeth grinding. Foods that are high in magnesium include almonds, spinach, avocado, and bananas.
Eat a balanced diet
Eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients can help promote overall health and reduce stress levels. Choose foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and exacerbate teeth grinding. Avoid consuming alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.
Dehydration can cause muscle tension and exacerbate teeth grinding. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
D. Herbal Remedies
In addition to these natural remedies, some dental professionals suggest the use of herbal remedies. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, herbal remedies such as valerian root, chamomile, and passionflower may help reduce teeth grinding by promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels if consumed 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime.
Here’s a closer look at these herbal remedies:
Valerian root is a natural supplement that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. It is believed to work by increasing the levels of GABA in the brain, a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation. Valerian root can be taken in the form of capsules or as a tea.
Chamomile is a natural supplement that is commonly used to promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. It is believed to work by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which promotes relaxation. Chamomile can be taken in the form of tea or capsules.
Passionflower is a natural supplement that is believed to work by increasing the levels of GABA in the brain. This helps to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. Passionflower can be taken in the form of capsules or as a tea.
Other herbal remedies that may help reduce teeth grinding include lemon balm, lavender, and kava. Although these herbs are believed to promote relaxation and reduce stress levels, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, especially if you are taking prescription medication, as they may interact with other medications.
When to visit a doctor
Overall, while dental devices such as mouthguards are the most effective treatment for bruxism, natural remedies can be used as a complement to dental devices and other treatments. It’s important to seek dental care if the problem persists and to consult with a healthcare provider before using any natural remedies.