How To Stop Clenching Your Jaw From Stress

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated November 9, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

There are many ways that stress can impact your life. Some of them are readily apparent while others are not so easy to detect. If you clench your jaw often, though, and you know that you are doing it in situations that you find stressful, then it may be time to make some changes. This article will address how to stop clenching your jaw from stress as well as the potential harm it can cause if you don’t. 

Why Do You Clench Your Jaw From Stress?

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Stress Causes Physical And Emotional Symptoms

People often clench their jaw or grind their teeth when there is stress in their life. It's not known precisely what the connection is between the two, but jaw clenching and teeth grinding are only a couple of the numerous different ways that the body can conceivably react to stressful situations. If you clench your jaw from anxiety, then you may damage your teeth in the long run. You could also give yourself headaches, and your jaw can start aching nonstop. 

The conventional thinking is that if you're clenching your jaw from stress or manifesting various other symptoms, then you'll need to change whatever aspects of your life are causing you to do so. Let's explore various ways to make these changes in your life.

Is Work A Source Of Stress In Your Life?

One thing to do when you're trying to remove stress from your life is to determine precisely what is causing your feelings of worry or anxiety. One of the more prevalent sources of stress for people are their jobs

If this sounds like your situation, you might need to figure out another way to support your family. If you work full-time, that means you're spending a lot of your waking hours at work. If you dislike your job, that can contribute to additional workplace stress. Think about what it is that you would prefer to be doing. Then, consider the possible impediments to doing it and how to overcome them.

If you need more education to obtain an alternate job, then think about going to college or trade school. If you must take out a loan, consider doing it. You're investing in your future, which could make the idea more palatable. 

What If Your Family Or Relationships Are A Problem?

If family or relationships are the source of the issue, then you may need to address whatever it is that's causing you stress. In many cases, you could be stressed because of lack of communication about whatever it is that's bothering you. You may be keeping your feelings locked up inside, and there are few better ways to cause yourself stress or worry. Alternatively, you might be arguing with whomever it is that's causing you stress. Maybe you have made an honest declaration of your feelings and needs, but the issues are still ongoing.

Whatever the case may be, you could consider going to couples or family counseling if you can't work out some solutions on your own. You might feel better about opening up when you know that you are in a safe space with a trained therapist there to act as the intermediary. You may be able to bring new ways of thinking and behaving into the relationship. If the relationship is not salvageable, then you might consider breaking things off. 

Other Possible Causes Of Stress

You might also feel stressed and be clenching your jaw because of things like concern for what is happening in the nation or around the world. There are ongoing issues like global climate change or politics that can potentially stress and/or depress some people.

Everyone feels a bit worried about the future sometimes. It’s natural to have concerns both for your children, if you have any, and for yourself. Some of the problems that America and the world face are cause for legitimate concern. Talking to a therapist about your feelings could be helpful. 

What Are Some Other Possible Solutions?

There are some other things that you can do if grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw is something ongoing for you. For instance, if you can tell that you're grinding your teeth at night, then you can wear a night guard. You will want to speak to your dentist about getting outfitted with a custom-made one. A night guard is an appliance, usually made of acrylic or plastic, that fits over your teeth. Other appliances can be worn at specific points during the day if you know that you tend to clench your jaw during your morning commute or at other stressful times. If your insurance does not cover a custom dental guard, many stores and pharmacies carry more generic ones that can still help.

Exercise Can Be Helpful


Another way that you can alleviate some stress is by exercising. Exercising is a way for you to burn calories and get yourself in better shape, but it also works as a way for your body to reset itself. It's hard to worry about much else when you're jogging or lifting weights. This practice can help you forget about whatever it is that's troubling you for a while.

Try To Learn New Habits

You may also want to be mindful of jaw clenching throughout the day. Try to identify the times when you are stressed and resultantly clench your jaw. Then, give yourself a little massage or allow the muscles to all go loose. Once you feel that all the tension has gone out of your jaws, then try to hold them in that position. Remember that the only time that your teeth should be coming together with any force is when you are chewing. If they're doing so at any other time, then you might benefit from making a conscious effort to relax your jaw.

Take A Warm Bath

After your workday is done, you can pamper yourself by taking a warm bath. This is an inexpensive way for you to reduce any tension or stress that has built up during the day. You can intentionally relax your jaw as well as all your other muscles while in the bath. This can double as your alone time when you can reflect on the day. You can light some scented candles, burn some essential oils for aromatherapy, and put on some calming music. This can become a ritual to cherish.

Getty Images
Stress Causes Physical And Emotional Symptoms

Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol

Too much caffeine or alcohol can cause you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth. To remedy this, you might consider avoiding them altogether or use them sparingly. Skip that extra cup of coffee in the afternoon or that glass of wine in the evening. It might seem like a harmless indulgence, but it could be contributing to your feelings of tension rather than alleviating them. If you'd like, you can try a warm cup of noncaffeinated tea instead.

Talk To Someone About Your Stress

You can also reach out to a qualified mental health professional if you want to talk about some other ways to reduce the stress in your life.

There are a number of ways that life can cause you to feel anxiety, but there may be just as many potential solutions to the problem.

One of these potential solutions is therapy.

If you’re experiencing stress, though, it’s likely that you also have a busy schedule. This can make attending in-person therapy sessions challenging. Online therapy doesn’t require a commute, though. Instead, it can be accessed from the comfort of your home. Scheduling options also tend to be more flexible since appointments are available around the clock. 

Online therapy is also research-backed. In fact, a recent review looked at just how effective eHealth can be in supporting your general well-being. The publication studies virtual mindfulness and relaxation techniques in patients with medical conditions. One of those techniques included talking to a therapist remotely. The 17 studies, ranging from 1990-2015, indicated that eHealth mindfulness and relaxation techniques can, in fact, have positive effects on patients’ overall health in addition to their psychological well-being.

Plenty of folks have already given BetterHelp a chance. Here are some of their reviews about their counselors:

“Miss Tangela is a great counselor. This was my first time in therapy of any kind. I was very nervous and she helped me get through my anxiety and really helped me work through a low point in my life. She always made me feel heard and like she truly cares about my mental health. She has helped me develop great coping strategies and new techniques to help with my anxiety and depression. I would recommend Miss Tangela to anyone and everyone.” 

“I've been working with Jennifer Evans for a few months now dealing with anxiety related issues and addressing long-standing negative coping mechanisms. I've made amazing progress in identifying underlying issues and establishing techniques to overcome my anxiety. Jennifer uses a variety of methods and tailors therapy based on feedback. She is quick to respond, is extremely caring and always insightful. I truly believe she has been integral to the progress I’ve made in a fairly short amount of time. I highly recommend this therapist and am encouraged by how effective online therapy can be.” Read more about Jennifer Evans.


Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth are a couple of the ways that your body is trying to tell you that enough is enough when it comes to the stress that you are experiencing. Take action and make some positive changes if this is happening to you.

Ease stress and mental exhaustion

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started