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How to Spot and Treat Teeth Grinding

woman holds hand to painful jaw

Csaba Deli/iStock

In this Article:

  • Teeth grinding usually happens at night.
  • Stress can cause teeth grinding.
  • Learn how to treat teeth grinding.

Ever wake up in the morning with horrible jaw pain or a throbbing headache? You may have a condition called bruxism, the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth. Teeth grinding usually happens at night, and is more likely if you have:

  • An overbite
  • Teeth that have shifted
  • Missing teeth
  • Recently had your teeth worked on

Feeling worried, stressed, angry, or frustrated can also cause you to clench or grind your teeth.

How To Spot Teeth Grinding

If you have any of the following symptoms, teeth grinding might be the cause:

If you think you may grind your teeth—or your sleep partner says you are—make an appointment with your dentist. Be sure to see a dentist right away if you:

  • Break a tooth
  • Lose a filling
  • Notice teeth are becoming loose

You don’t want to wait and find out about tooth damage at deployment time!

Ways To Treat Or Prevent Teeth Grinding

The best way to treat teeth grinding is to see a dentist. Most cases of teeth grinding are due to a dental issue. Your dentist may recommend that you:

  • Get fitted for a night guard to protect your teeth while you sleep
  • Take a muscle relaxant before bedtime
  • Practice proper mouth and jaw position (ask your dentist to show you how)

Other simple steps that may help prevent teeth grinding:

  • Avoid chewing gum and pencils or pens
  • Hold a warm washcloth against your cheek before bed to relax muscles
  • Massage your jaw before bed

If stress is the reason you are grinding or clenching your teeth, find a way to relax and reduce your anxiety. This can be done through meditation, counseling, or exercise.

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