Keep Calm and Stop That Teeth Grinding

An increase in stress and anxiety can cause teeth clenching and grinding, also known as bruxism, a condition that can lead to painful, worn down and broken teeth and jaw, neck and head pain. 

Other factors that can possibly cause teeth grinding include: anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension. If it occurs during sleep, it is called sleep bruxism. This is a common, but poorly understood muscle function disorder characterized by tooth grinding and clenching. It occurs in both children and adults.

What are some symptoms of tooth clenching and grinding?

  • Headache, earache or facial pain.
  • Jaw, neck or back muscle tenderness or pain, especially in the morning.
  • Hot, cold or sweet sensitivity in teeth.
  • Difficulty sleeping, including for your sleeping partner since teeth grinding can be very noisy.

At this time there is no cure for sleep bruxism. Treatment is usually focused on protecting your teeth and jaws with night guards or splints.

If you are grinding and clenching during the day, you may be able to kick the teeth-clenching habit. Here are some things to ease the pain and damage to your teeth while breaking the cycle:

  • Relax face and jaw muscles. Practicing this throughout the day can help create a habit of relaxing instead of tightening these muscles.
  • Reduce stress. Everything from eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and getting regular exercise to spending time with people you enjoy can help.
  • Lips together, teeth apart. Remember your teeth don’t normally touch in normal function.
  • Tell your dentist. To protect your teeth, he or she may suggest a mouth guard or splint appliance. There are different types depending on individual needs.


Castroflorio T, Bargellini A, Rossini G, Cugliari G, Deregibus A.  Sleep bruxism and related risk factors in adults: A systematic literature review. Arch Oral Biol. 2017 Jul 5;83:25-32.

Feu D, Catharino F, Cardoso Abdo Quintão C and  Oliveira Almeida  D.  A systematic review of etiological and risk factors associated with bruxism. Journal of Orthodontics Vol. 40 , Iss. 2,2013