This article has been medically reviewed and verified by Dr. Lara Coseo (DDS, FAGD). She is a 2004 graduate of Baylor College of Dentistryin Dallas, TX. Having practiced general dentistry for 13 years, Dr. Lara currently serves as an Associate Professor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.
This article has been updated and reviewed for accuracy on 06/21/22
It’s doesn’t just happen during the night.
Jaw pain and tension can greatly impact your day to day activities and quality of life. Headaches, jaw pain or soreness and dental wear can be symptoms of day bruxism too. Clenching your teeth during the day can be a side effect of anxiety.
Daytime Bruxism | Signs & Symptoms
Signs You’re Grinding or Clenching Your Teeth During The Day
- stiffness and soreness in your teeth and jaw area(s)
- jaw tension and tightness. Feels like jaw is never relaxed.
- you catch yourself clenching or bearing down while focused on a task
- teeth sensitive to cold
- popping sounds when you open or close your jaw (may or may not accompany other symptoms)
- particularly stressed during the day
- cracked or worn down teeth
- Painful to chew gum or certain foods ex: steak
During the day, clenching the teeth is more common than grinding.
What causes bruxism during the day?
Normal activities may induce a little bit of light clenching and that’s okay. But high stress jobs, deadlines, and environmental tension can cause us to hold stress in our jaw.
If you find yourself clenching your teeth together while you’re sitting at the computer for instance or while focusing on a task that is pretty common.
Now, if you’re reading this thinking YES I DO clench or grind my teeth during my day and I have the jaw pain to prove it, you may be suffering from daytime bruxism.
Common Treatment for Daytime Bruxism
How to stop teeth grinding during the day
You will benefit from wearing a thin night guard during the day to protect and save your teeth.
The Sentinel Mouthguard is a bruxism treatment indicated for relief of pain associated with jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
“But I don’t want everyone to know I’m wearing a guard during the day. I need to be able to talk on the phone and talk with coworkers!”
We hear you. Our No-Show Day Guard hugs the back molars only so you can smile and speak all day without your daytime guard showing.
Another great option for you:
Much like the popular invisalign retainers, our 1mm hard night guard is just as thin and unnoticeable. This design covers all of the teeth.
Interesting fact: Some studies suggest that diurnal bruxism is less prevalent in aged and experienced workers. Young workers in high stress in environments with less experience tend to clench and/or grind their teeth more regularly and with more intensity.
Fear not! We have you covered. If you would like to discuss whether the thin daytime guard or the no-show day guard will work best for you, we’re here to help.
Do you believe you may be suffering from daytime bruxism? This is also referred to as diurnal bruxism in the dental field.
Some dentists speculate that teeth grinding and clenching is getting worse because of day to day stresses though other factors like sleep apnea can cause teeth grinding as well.
High stress lives can cause daytime bruxism.
From paramedics to taxi drivers to customer service agents to stay at home parents, stress is oftentimes lurking behind the clenched jaw. Stress induced bruxism can come and go during your life. If suffering from sleep apnea, the bruxism can stay with you for much longer.
What to do?
Habit awareness. Simply being aware of what you’re doing is the first step to recognizing the habit and making a conscience decision to stop.
Habit reversal therapy. A behavioral treatment that provides a step by step guide to reversing habits. This can be an effective tool to empower a person to overcome the urge to clench the jaw during the day.
Relaxation techniques. This includes focusing on the breath, mind/body scan, meditation, repetitive mantras, focusing on visual imagery, hot baths, sipping tea, sitting outside, etc.
Biofeedback massed therapy. A therapy that involves visual and audio techniques that help you gain control over involuntary movements.
Moist heat therapy. Hot compresses with a damp cloth on the jaw in the morning as soon as you get up. 20 minutes on each side can penetrate the muscles and help to loosen them up. Also, evening hot compresses after a long day can offer relief.
Treatment includes often includes night guards or daytime bruxism splints. Hard splints and soft guards can help greatly to break up tooth on tooth contact and give the teeth a much needed break from bruxing.
Self massage on different points on the face. There are a few points on the jaw area that can be massaged daily to relax the muscle tissue and reduce nerve compression. Learn how to properly self massage the jaw.
Other recommendations include getting a good nights’ sleep, eating well, daily exercise, reducing smoking and alcohol.
The good news is, you’re awake when you’re performing the action unlike nocturnal bruxism. Self awareness, that is, being cognizant of clenching the teeth during the day is your first step to curing the issue. When you find yourself clenching, take a deep breath and relax the jaw. We tend to hold all of our stress in our jaw. Relax the teeth. Relax the jaw and breath.
Similar to when we lift weights and feel sore after, a feeling of tension and tightness in the face can build up due to the constant “working out” of the jaw at night or during the day. Lactic acid builds up in the muscles.
Your teeth need a break. Your jaw needs a break but there is no relief because the act is involuntary. You’re not trying to do it!
When the muscles aren’t firing as much, they can relax and pain decreases.
The prevalence of daytime bruxism is high in the work place. Studies show that young professionals with less experience on the job tend to suffer from this parafunctional activity more so than aged, experienced workers. Certain therapies such as behavioral therapies, habit reversal therapies and relaxation techniques have shown promising success in lessening diurnal bruxism. Additionally, moist warm compresses on the jaw, wearing a dental night guard during the day and self massage can help greatly.
Okeson JP. The effect of hard and soft occlusal splints on nocturnal bruxism. J Am Dent Assoc. 1987;114(6):788–91.
S Varalakshmi Reddy, M Praveen Kumar, D Sravanthi, Abdul Habeeb Bin Mohsin, V AnuhyaJ. Bruxism: A Literature Review. Int Oral Health. 2014 Nov-Dec; 6(6): 105–109. PMCID: PMC4295445
Jager, W. (2003) Breaking ’bad habits’: a dynamical perspective on habit formation and change. in: L. Hendrickx, W. Jager, L. Steg, (Eds.) Human Decision Making and Environmental Perception. Understanding and Assisting Human Decision Making in Real-life Settings. Liber Amicorum for Charles Vlek. Groningen: University of Groningen.
Work, Stress, and Diurnal Bruxism: A Pilot Study among Information Technology Professionals in Bangalore City, India S. K. Rao, M. Bhat, J. DavidInt J Dent. 2011; 2011: 650489. Published online 2011 Dec 10. doi: 10.1155/2011/650489PMCID: PMC3235458