Signs You Could Be Grinding Your Teeth and What To Do about It

Published in: Beauty Tips

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is no laughing matter. While it’s something most of us do from time to time and doesn’t usually become a health problem, a bad case can ruin a perfectly good smile.


The pressure we put on ourselves even while asleep can be such a pain, ladies. Jaw pain, chipped teeth, smashed molars, earaches, toothaches, headaches, accelerated tooth decay and tongue biting are some of the worst pains severe bruxism can cause.

Are you bruxing your teeth?

Mine started about a year ago. I’d wake up with a sore jaw and had no idea why. My dentist clued me in on my next visit, seeing telltale signs of tooth wear that revealed the culprit: I was grinding my teeth.

“Karen, how’s your stress level?” he asked.

Stress level? Well, I hadn’t won the lottery yet, and we were worried about the recession and El Hub potentially losing his job. “Not awesome,” I said.

According to the American Dental Association, experts aren’t sure what causes bruxism, but stress and anxiety are at the top of their list of suspects, along with allergies, sleep disorders, ear infections, an abnormal bite and crooked or missing teeth.


My dentist had a mouth guard made for me from a custom molding of my teeth, a rather expensive solution that cost a few hundred dollars out of pocket, but I didn’t want to wear my teeth down to stumps so I agreed. I wore it every night to bed, and before long my jaw soreness disappeared.

If you suspect you might be grinding your teeth at night (your SO might even be able to hear it), a visit to the dentist might be in order. If they tell you “You’re bruxing,” ask about less expensive options to custom-fitted nightguards like…

If stress is making you grind

  • Avoid or cut back on caffeinated foods and beverages like colas, chocolate and coffee.
  • Steer clear of the booze. Grinding seems to worsen with alcohol consumption.
  • Watch what you chew. Chewing on pencils, pens, gum or anything that isn’t food gets your jaw muscles more accustomed to clenching and makes you more likely to grind.
  • Practice makes perfect. If you notice yourself clenching or grinding during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. It trains your jaw muscles to relax.
  • Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 25 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Vanessa H says:

    *hugs* I’m glad your hub kept his job, it is so stressful to have a significant other with that worry on their shoulders!

    I grind my teeth under extreme levels of stress, but it’s when I’m awake and trying not to let curse words fly out of my head. I just talk in my sleep most of the time, in Spanish, to the bf’s delight lol. He doesn’t speak it, but cracks up every time I do it.
    .-= Vanessa H’s last blog post… TGIF Survey and SkinMD Giveaway! =-.

  2. Kypris says:

    Hopefully your stress levels go away enough that you don’t have to wear it forever! I’m the kind of person who increases the stress levels in my life when I’m not stressed out, so I think I’ll be wearing my nightguard for everrrr. I have a retainer on the top, and the nightguard on the bottom. I have a mouthful of appliances, lovely. I also clench my jaw, but at least the grinding is lessening and my teeth will no longer be painful (I’d worn them away that much).

  3. Celine says:

    Great article. I clench my jaw in my sleep, and my dental insurance denied a night guard for me. Initial response was “I’ll show them when I break a tooth!” but I’m looking into buying a cheap drugstore one right now. My only issue is that when I had retainers as a teen, I would remove them in my sleep, I hope I wouldn’t do that now 😐
    .-= Celine’s last blog post… maravi: @HPLCSessions I’ve tried fused-core and doesn’t work with what we manufacture. Doesn’t stop reps from trying to sell me some. =-.

  4. Liliana says:

    wow, i think i might be doing that. my jaw hurts from time to time but just my right side and i have super small teeth. dentist once said i might grind my teeth while sleeping and needed a mouth guard and havent yet. oops!!

  5. Lauren says:

    I grind my teeth too, and have a bad case of TMJ on top of it. I tried the drugstore ones, but I actually grinded right through 2 of them! So they may not be the best solution for someone who grinds hard. I actually sleep with a sports mouthguard now.. and after a few months I wear that down too!

  6. Katrina says:

    I just got my nightguard this past fall. I noticed fine cracks in my teeth and asked the dentist about them, they didn’t even tell me about them. It was thought that I clench my teeth at night so I got fitted for a nightguard. I was lucky and my insurance paid 90%. I don’t wear it every night but I definately can tell a difference when I wear it and I can even tell when it’s going to be a bad night – I make sure I wear them. I also am more aware now of when I clench my teeth and even wear the guard while hanging around the house, like if I’m just surfing the web or watching tv at night. It was a good choice for me to get one and hopefully I won’t do permanent damage to my teeth.

  7. Katie says:

    I have never had issues with teeth grinding! My SO does though. He wears this giant blue mouth guard to bed — cracks me up ! 😀 Unfortunately, my SO’s best friend karma, made my wisdom teeth start to come in, so I have to wear my retainers at night…what a couple.
    .-= Katie’s last blog post… MAC Viva Glam Gaga Lipstick =-.

  8. Rae says:

    Aww, *hugs* I don’t have issues with grinding, but I clench my jaw shut very tightly while I’m either asleep or distracted — and from it, I have a case of TMJ bad enough to scare a medical student. (No joke.) My dentist is recommending specialized treatment not covered by healthcare that’ll ring in around $1100, holy cripes! Not exactly the $20 mouth guard from the drugstore, eh? :/

    My thoughts are with you and el hubs ♥ This recession sucks, but you’ll pull through!
    .-= Rae’s last blog post… B-Ray, the new navy. =-.

  9. Meg says:

    I think it’s great that you are covering dental health topics. I had a nightguard made a few years ago when my dentist saw that my enamel was worn down on the tops of my bottom teeth and it has helped me so much. I started out wearing it every night and after a few months I was no longer grinding my teeth. I no longer wear it every night but I can easily tell now when i am grinding my teeth and know to wear it then. I will also wear it preemptively when i know I am stressed.

    Recently I’ve found that I’m actually grinding my teeth during the day when it’s not so easy to wear the guard and I am getting painful headaches from it. I’m going to try the tip about placing the tongue in between the teeth 🙂
    .-= Meg’s last blog post… The perfect reading companion… =-.

  10. Dao says:

    I do grind my teeth when I sleep and I find having a pillow at a certain height does help. It’s annoying and sometimes I have headache in the morning.
    .-= Dao’s last blog post… GILTY Pleasures Weekly Blog Tour: Vol 5, 2010 =-.

  11. Melanie says:

    Agh!! i have been doing this for over a year! I had no idea why i was waking up with headaches and jaw ache until my boyfriend told me i was doing it 🙁 I think i have chipped one of my bottom teeth this way. I really should get one of those guard things.

  12. Petra says:

    As a child i used to grin my teeth (doubt I was so stressed, it must have been something else), sometimes my parents came in to wake me up because the yheard it from the other room. 🙁 Terribble. We never did anything about it, I guess we just didn’t knwo what to do. Later on i quit that habit i guess, and only rarely was woken up by my SO that i was grinding again.
    But I became very consious about it, so I wisited a dentist and had one of those silicony retainers made (I presume that would be the nightguard?). I wore that on my lower teeth, but with time it got used and my teeth may have shifted a bit, because it didn’t fit comfortably (I used to have bracers – and in the morning it felt like when they tightened the grasp of those). So lately I got new ones, now they fitted them for the upper teeth row (no idea why they found it better there this time), and I try to wear them regularly. Lately I don’t gring, but I clench my jaw. 🙁 I really hate that I have no control over it, in my sleep.
    On another note, I read someone said she’s afraid of taking them out in her sleep – I have done that, sadly, so you can only hope for the best! If it’s very fitted and not uncomfortable, the less You may take them out in your sleep!

    Thank You for this topic, Karen!

  13. Petra says:

    (Ugh, so many typos, sorry! and by wisited, I mean visited.. It’s late here 🙂 )

  14. Hafsa says:

    Wow I thought I was the only one! I started wearing one when I noticed a sore jaw and then a few days later I woke with essentially a locked jaw! I could only open my mouth two/three fingers-width apart. After that incident, I went to the dentist and she fitted me for a night guard and I’ve been good ever since. This problem is apparently more wide spread than I first anticipated. I’m glad that there are drugstore alternatives since mine cost $300!
    .-= Hafsa’s last blog post… Testing 1-2-3 =-.

  15. happybadfish says:

    I have a mouth guard and I can’t live without it. When I am away from home, it is the first thing I put in my carry on bag. I clench my teeth during the day as well, and when I am studying for an exam or something I wear my mouth guard.
    My sister and mom both grind their teeth too.

  16. marisol says:

    I hope that the mouth guard helped but even more than that, I hope that your stress level isn’t as high anymore. We all have stress from time to time and need to figure out a healthy way to deal with it. When I get too stressed, I can’t sleep and get really bad headaches. Sometimes breathing exercises help… and a glass of wine 🙂
    .-= marisol’s last blog post… Fun in the Snow =-.

  17. Nina says:

    Ive ground my teeth in my sleep since I was a kid. I remember my mom waking me up each time she heard me doing the grindy grind in my sleep.

    I use the Doctor’s Nightguard (when I remember to pop it in) and it does help.

    Plus I try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon (so byebye after-lunch or with-lunch coffee) and try to declench when its time for bed.

  18. Kelly says:

    Yep, I’m a grinder and have been for many years. I actually have to pop my jaw on the left side many times a day or it will get stuck, which is painful. I also have super sensitive gums from grinding. This is one of the many reasons I abhor going to the dentist! 🙁

    I have had 2 different mouth guards made, but I can’t wear them. They are just too big and thick and they make me drool. I’m such a light sleeper that I just can’t sleep with it in my mouth!
    .-= Kelly’s last blog post… Vampy Varnish Fav’s Featuring: Grey =-.

  19. fatma says:

    i am en expert in grinding teeth its startes when i was a child until now i don’t think stress is the reson cuz when your a child the level of stress is less than now when your adult so there is no clear or main reson yet also i just read that women grind their teeth more than man hmmm i wonder why

  20. April says:

    I’ve been grinding my teeth for over a year now:( I finally went to the dentist & had them do a custom one for my mouth. You aren’t joking, it’s quite expensive, close to $400.00! But, I needed it. I’ve been having horrible pain on the upper 2nd to last tooth on both sides, caused by grinding my teeth at night & now my roots are showing. The night guard won’t fix it, so I’ll have to spend more money to get fillings to cover the roots. ugh! It never ends…

  21. Kae says:

    I have been grinding since I was very young. After trying many cheaper mouthguards, I tried one by Splintek. It works great, it does take time to get used to because it leaves your mouth a little open. Sometimes it falls out of my mouth but it helps my aching jaw on the nights I wear it.
    .-= Kae’s last blog post… Colorama Steel Wheeling =-.

  22. Ditte K. says:

    Wow, you’re lucky in the US. The cheapest in-mold created mouth guard at a dentist I’ve found costs 600 dollars here in Denmark. And there’s only boxing mouth guards that just don’t fit available at a cheap price.

  23. Ling says:

    it’s great that you’re informing yr readers not just about makeup, skincare but also dental care. thumbs up from me =)

  24. Ella says:

    I grind/clench my teeth. I first had a lower mouthguard made – it was of a soft material, and I found myself chewing it – and after a while, my jaw would click and get stuck. I found a new dentist who made me an upper mouth guard – it’s of a hard material that you have to put under warm water – so that it becomes soft and molds to your teeth. Once it sets, it stays in place all night.

    He also used filler and fixed the chips in my upper and lower teeth from the grinding (much better than filing them down – as the shorter your teeth get, the older you look). It forces me to wear my mouthguard, as I don’t want to ruin the fillings 🙂

    But I still clench my jaws – and I wake up in SUCH pain. Rae – what specialised treatment did your dentist recommend? I was referred to a specialist, and he wanted to do an MRI and then inject steroids into my jaw joint…um – no way!
    .-= Ella’s last blog post… Product Review: C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Buffer Gentle Formula =-.

  25. John says:

    Like the article mentions, stop drinking caffeinated drinks by at least 1:00 PM. I used to drink diet soda at night until I realized that it was a big trigger for me to clench my teeth at night.

    I also highly recommend acupuncture. I had never tried it before and was skeptical, but after 3 or 4 visits, it worked like a charm. I stopped for clenching 6 months then started clenching again. But when I went back for a few more treatments, I stopped again. So you may, like me, need to go back every once in a while to keep you in the clear.

    Clenching/grinding is really painful, so my sympathies to you. Good luck everyone.

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