Can I stop grinding my teeth?

When you grind your teeth at night, you may answer this question with: ‘No, I can’t! How can I? I don’t know I’m doing it!’ And although at first glance this might seem a reasonable answer, there are ways that you can get out of this nightly grind!


There are three main areas to explore in treatment for teeth-grinding: physical awareness, mental awareness and sleep preparation. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.

Physical awareness

When you grind your teeth, muscles in your jaw, mouth and maybe also in your face, shoulders, neck and back become tight, tense and contracted. You can also suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) as your jaw hinge suffers from the constant grinding movement. This can become so ‘normal’  that you no longer notice the contraction that happens ‘automatically’ during the day.

When you suffer with bruxism, physical tension is always a factor to consider. The bottom line is, you don’t feel super relaxed during the day and then all of a sudden become tense when you go to bed. There is no doubt underlying tension in the day that then becomes greater in the stillness of night.

The first pathway to stop nocturnal teeth grinding is therefore to learn how to physically release your muscles during the day.

Relaxation exercises can be for the jaw, the mouth, the face, and the whole body. 

By repeating certain tension-release exercises consistently, your body and your brain relearn how it feels when the muscles are tension-free. Exercises don't have to be long or time-consuming. Two or three-minute regular ‘snacks’ of tension release can already work wonders! Your hypnotherapist can also provide you with longer recordings for a delightful mental and physical ‘spa’ when you have more time available.

Mental awareness

The roots of bruxism are in physical and mental tension. When you ruminate, chew over the past, and worry about the future, you have a conversation in your mind. Words, thoughts and images flow into your mind and your body actively reacts to them. Your body doesn’t know that the situation you are thinking about isn’t real.

When your thoughts and words are tense, you experience physical tension. When your words and thoughts are soft and kind, your body relaxes.

Consider a few popular expressions connected to teeth:

  • "Fed up to the back teeth."
  • "Fight tooth and nail for something."
  • "Grit your teeth and get on with it."

They are always associated with difficulties and tension.

When you understand this flow between mental and physical tension, you can consider that when you let go of the negative, ruminating, worrying thoughts, you naturally have a softer, open, relaxed mouth and jaw. You no longer need to ‘set your teeth on edge’.

This work can be done with a cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist. Together you unpack unhelpful, negative, self-sabotaging, overwhelming thoughts, and put in place coping strategies. You not only become more aware of these invasive thoughts but also challenge their usefulness. It is not because you have a thought that you have to believe it!

You can learn to put a thought ‘out of your mind’ or to the ‘back of your mind’ as you engage with relaxing. 

Hypnosis can help in this discovery. In the deep mental and physical place that hypnosis drifts you to, you let go of current concerns and learn to relax in the peaceful place in your mind.

Sleep preparation

The above two steps of physical relaxation exercises practiced during the day together with mental awareness will already help you to greater consciousness of contraction in your jaw, mouth, or teeth. Most importantly, you will know how to release tightness and revert to a relaxed. soft, calm, jaw and mouth. The added benefit will be that you learn to release and deal differently with negative thoughts. You no longer have to ‘make your teeth itch’!

To help you prepare for sleep, an individually tailored sleep hypnosis can be wonderful. You create a new sleep ritual of softness, calm and peacefulness and can drift off in the comforting knowledge that your body is safe, warm, comforted, and in a space to recharge its batteries. You can wake up feeling refreshed and without an aching jaw or teeth

Physical ‘habits’ such as bruxism are often if not always a manifestation of internal anxiousness or tension. You can learn to ‘unlearn’ the physical habit!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Teddington, Middlesex, TW11
Written by Morag Stevenson, Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist
Teddington, Middlesex, TW11

Morag Stevenson is a cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist who specialises in helping people overcome and manage stress and anxiety.
She's particularly interested in BFRB's (Body-Focused Repetitive Disorders). She works online with clients worldwide using CB hypnotherapy, mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

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