7 Natural Ways to Help Tooth Grinding or Bruxism

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is another name for teeth-clenching or grinding due to the contraction of the masseter, temporalis, and other jaw muscles. It typically happens at night while people are sleeping, but others will clench and/or grind during the day as well.

What Causes Bruxism?

Bruxism is considered to be a sleep-related movement disorder. Which just means that it is something that people do in their sleep that involves movement. These types of disorders may also include flexing of the feet, muscle twitches or jerking movements while sleeping. It may lead to daytime fatigue and non-restorative sleep. Some of the possible causes of tooth grinding include intestinal parasites, food allergies, environmental allergies, stress, and caffeine intake.

What is the Prevalence of Bruxism?

One study found that 26.9% of preschool children grind their teeth while they sleep.

What are the consequences of or problems associated with Bruxism?

Bruxism is associated with:

  • poor sleep quality
  • tooth wear
  • respiratory problems
  • dental cavities
  • misalignment or incorrect relation between the rows of the top and bottom teeth
  • tiredness/soreness of the jaw muscles
  • TMJ pain
  • headaches and migraines
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • it could affect the sleeping pattern, with consequences for the overall health, growth, and quality of life of children
  • hypertrophy of chewing muscles
  • tooth surface loss
  • fracture of restorations or teeth
  • hypersensitive or painful teeth and
  • loss of periodontal support

How can you treat Bruxism?

Stress management

Stress reduction techniques like yoga, deep breathing, tai chi, meditation, psychotherapy, and regular exercise may help calm down your nervous system. Supporting your body’s ability to manage stress through nutrients like vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin B5, vitamin C, zinc and adaptogenic herbs may also help. These options are best discussed with one of our naturopathic doctors.

Massage the masseter muscles

Your masseter muscles are your chewing muscles. If you hold your fingers about an inch in front of your ears and clench your teeth, you’ll feel these muscles bulge outward against your fingers. Massaging the muscle helps to relieve the tension in the muscle. Our chiropractors and osteopath can help relieve muscle tension that may also contribute to grinding your teeth. Acupuncture can also be used to relieve muscle tension and treat TMJ pain.

Investigate parasites

Young children are prone to picking up parasites like pinworm. One study of 86 children between the ages of 3 and 7 found that 11.2% of them had pinworm. The worm is active in the gut at night. This may be sending nerve impulses to the brain and stimulating the nervous system. The main symptoms of pinworm infection include itching skin, including the skin around the rectum and bruxism. Pinworm is easily tested for and treated through either conventional medicine or herbal medicine.

Parasite prevention techniques include washing hands before eating, drinking only clean water and eating cooked (rather than raw) food, cleaning perianal region frequently, and cutting nails frequently.

Magnesium bisglycinate

Magnesium calms down the nervous system by acting as a GABA receptor agonist. Magnesium also helps to relax muscles, including the masseter muscle. It can be taken orally or also applied topically to the masseter as a magnesium oil or gel.

Investigate food allergies or sensitivities

Food allergies or sensitivities can set off inflammation that affects not only the gut, but also the brain and the nervous system. Inflammation in these systems may trigger abnormal activity at night when you are sleeping. One of the worst cases of Restless Leg Syndrome I ever saw was corrected by removing food sensitivities.

Investigate environmental allergies

Similarly to food sensitivities, environmental allergies may trigger inflammation that affects the brain and the nervous system, causing excessive nervous system activity at night.


Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake from all sources including coffee, tea and chocolate, particularly later in the day to allow for calmer, more relaxing sleep.

Would you rather listen than read? Listen to my Bruxism podcast episode now.

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

Bruxism Research






Non-drug Treatment for Abdominal Pain

treatment for child with abdominal pain

How to Treat Abdominal Pain in a Child

Guided imagery may offer a relatively simple way to soothe children’s [and perhaps adult’s] chronic abdominal pain, research suggests. The study tested CD-based guided imagery for treating what doctors refer to as functional abdominal pain — that is, abdominal pain that is related to poor function of the digestive tract and can’t be attributed to any disease or physical abnormality. Right now, treatment includes medications — such as drugs to relieve constipation, diarrhea or acid reflux if they are present, or, in some cases, low-dose antidepressants.

Guided imagery is a behavioral technique sometimes referred to as self-hypnosis. The therapy helps people create relaxing images in their minds to deal with symptoms like stress, anxiety and pain. In one study, 34 children aged 6 to 15 were randomly assigned to either stay with standard care for their functional abdominal pain, or to add home-based guided imagery sessions.

In the latter group, parents and children watched a DVD on guided imagery, and the children were instructed to listen to their CDs at least five days per week over eight weeks. The sessions guided the children in forming simple, relaxing images. One session, for example, had the children imagine themselves floating on a cloud while a “special object” melted onto one of their hands, making it shiny and warm. They were then told to place that hand on their stomachs and visualize the light and warmth spreading inside their bellies, providing a protective shield.

After eight weeks, the study found, nearly three-quarters of the children in the guided-imagery group said their pain had decreased by at least half. That compared with 29 percent of children on standard care alone.

When children in the latter group were then offered guided imagery, about 62 percent saw their pain decrease by at least half. It’s not clear why guided imagery helps some children. One theory is that functional abdominal pain stems, at least in some cases, from hypersensitivity in the rich nerve supply of the gut; guided imagery may help reduce that sensitivity.

By Dr Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopath

SOURCE: Pediatrics, November 2009.