Heath Mattioli for WSJ
Sleep, probably our favorite activity, is a time to rest and rejuvenate the body. Unfortunately, according to the National Sleep Foundation, 8% of adults’ sleep is disturbed by an affliction called bruxism—the medical term for unconscious teeth grinding. Of course, since sufferers are asleep at the time, diagnosis is typically based on a series of undesirable symptoms including waking up with jaw, mouth, or head pain. Or worse, the downright devastating reveal of a chipped or damaged tooth. Sounds awful!
We asked Dr. Gerry Curatola, a New York–based celebrity dentist with more than 30 years of experience in oral health care, to weigh-in on what factors lead to teeth grinding. Curtola shared, "This can be fueled by sleep disorders, anxiety, and everyday stress. Bite problems (malocclusion) and improper jaw alignment can also contribute to this damaging activity.”
Should you fall victim to teeth grinding, regardless of the reason, there are some dietary and lifestyle triggers you should probably avoid. Keep scrolling for Dr. Curatola’s tactics you can test out at home.
“Cut back on caffeine products (coffee, colas, tea, and chocolate). Caffeine is like putting gasoline on the fire for teeth grinding.”
“Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol tends to worsen grinding while sleeping.” Curatola offers to instead, “Consume more water throughout the day. Being properly hydrated helps to diminish stress and reduce teeth grinding.”
“Practice stress reduction techniques and jaw relaxation exercises throughout the day and especially before bed. Application of a warm wet washcloth is very soothing to alleviate pain from grinding. Massaging jaw muscles, neck and face muscles helps to relax the jaw,” says Curatola. You can also incorporate massaging a relaxing essential oil, like Virtruvi Still Natural Aromatherapy Oil ($42), into the jawline as part of your nighttime ritual. You can also give the workout scientifically proven to reduce stress a whirl.
Do you grind your teeth at night? Have you tried one of the above? Sound off if you’ve seen or felt an improvement in the comments!