Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Self-care for teeth grinding

There are several things you can try that may help if you grind or clench your teeth.

Reduce stress

Listening to music, taking a warm bath or being active can help to reduce stress. Relaxation techniques such as calming breathing, yoga, Pilates, tai chi or progressive muscle relaxation may also help.

Avoid hard foods and limit sticky foods

Eating hard foods such as nuts, popcorn, raw apples and hard lollies can make tooth and jaw pain worse. So can eating sticky foods such as peanut butter.

Avoid stimulating substances in the evening

Caffeinated drinks and alcohol may make teeth grinding worse. Try to avoid them in the evening and after dinner.

Practice good sleep habits and check your sleeping position

Getting a good night’s sleep may help reduce teeth grinding. Go to bed at the same time every night, relax before bedtime and make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet.

You are less likely to clench or grind your teeth when you sleep on your back. This position allows your jaw to rest naturally without any pressure pushing down on your face. Your pillow should support your face, jaw and neck.

If you have sleep apnoea or snore, side sleeping is best. This is because sleeping on your back can make snoring and sleep apnoea worse.

Try exercises to reduce pain and teeth grinding

Some exercises can help reduce pain and relax the muscles involved in teeth grinding. Try the following exercises several times a day to see if they help.

Use ice and heat

Ice helps reduce swelling and numbs pain. Heat helps relax your muscles and increases blood circulation.

Use an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) for severe pain. Apply to your jaw, face or neck for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat as needed.

Use heat for mild to moderate pain. Apply a moist warm towel or a warm wheat bag to your jaw muscles for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat as needed.

Take pain relief medicine

Pain relief medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may help if you have teeth, face, jaw or neck pain. Ibuprofen is often very effective for pain. But it can have significant side effects and is not suitable for everyone. If you think you need to take ibuprofen regularly for more than a week or 2, tell your general practice team.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created May 2024.


Page reference: 1351004

Review key: HICPA-75368