Stop bruxing now! How hypnotherapy helps

Bruxism is a medical term that refers to the involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth, typically during sleep. This condition can also occur while awake, but it is often more prevalent during night-time sleep. People who suffer from bruxism (about 10% of the population) may grind their teeth together or clench their jaw, often with considerable force.


What causes bruxism?

The exact causes of bruxism are not fully understood, but it is believed to be linked to various factors, including stress, anxiety, or sleep disorders. Bruxism can lead to several complications and symptoms, such as headaches, sensation like earache, jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, and damage to the teeth, including dentistry such as crowns and fillings, excessive wear, and fractures. It can affect people of all ages.

According to the Bruxism Association, “Mental disorders, anxiety, stress, and adverse psychosocial factors are significantly related to tooth grinding during sleep, and it has been found that nearly 70% of bruxism occurs as a result of stress or anxiety. “

You can look at it from a static, tension perspective where the strong chewing muscles are over-working and constantly engaged (imagine the wrestler pumped before a fight, jaw fixed and tight).

The second issue can be grinding (think constant gurning!) which may also be unconscious and or triggered by stressors such as worries, physically demanding tasks and increased attention (like driving or concentration on something specific). Both can cause the chewing and accessory muscles to overwork. This can cause them to enlarge and transmit huge forces through the face, scalp, and neck/shoulders. Both can happen independently or together and may be entirely subconscious which can be during sleep, linked to concentration or habitual.

The causes of Bruxism are multifactorial, so by tackling this from all angles, body and mind is a great way forward.

Hypnosis for bruxism

Hypnosis as a therapeutic intervention hypnosis, a state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, has gained recognition as a complementary therapy in various medical and psychological conditions. Its application in bruxism management revolves around addressing subconscious triggers and promoting relaxation responses to mitigate teeth-grinding episodes. Through guided imagery, relaxation techniques, and cognitive restructuring, hypnotherapists aim to reframe maladaptive behaviours and alleviate bruxism symptoms holistically.

Clinical evidence and efficacy of hypnosis 

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis demonstrated success in reducing bruxing through hypnotherapy. Participants showed reduced bruxism at intervals of both four months and three years after hypnotherapy treatment. 

The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis Research found that an analysis of the various treatments proposed, highlights the value of hypnosis as the ideal way to eliminate the psychological factors causing the onset of bruxism and to provide adequate relaxation while modifying pain perception. 

A study by Simon & Lewis found that patients using medical hypnosis for temporomandibular disorders (TMD) found a reduction in pain intensity, frequency, and duration. This was maintained at a six month follow-up. Dr Morse is cited in a study in the Journal of Human Stress, and states that indications are that relaxation therapy is effective in the amelioration of all types of bruxism.

Elise’s Own research on offering an online ‘Stop Bruxing Now’ package including exercises, massages, lifestyle enhancements as well as hypnosis to beta testers showed great promise.

“Using Elise's approach to managing bruxism has helped me to think more holistically around the causes and treatments for my jaw clenching. I have become more aware of the close association with my neck muscle tightness and the focus on this has helped to alleviate the clenching. The hypnotherapy at night has improved the quality of my sleep. I find I use all of the massage and stretching techniques throughout the day.”

“I have gone through the programme for three nights now and already I have 60% less tension and discomfort “

“I've tried the exercises and massages. It helps because there's less muscle tension in the jaw. And most importantly, I've been able to gain four millimetres in mouth opening.”

The mind-body connection

The mechanisms underlying hypnosis' efficacy in bruxism management remain multifaceted. Psychophysiological studies have elucidated its impact on modulating autonomic nervous system activity, reducing sympathetic arousal, and enhancing parasympathetic tone. By inducing a state of deep relaxation and altering perceptual processes, hypnosis may mitigate stress-related triggers and promote adaptive coping mechanisms, thus interrupting the bruxism cycle.

Elise has noticed an influx of Bruxism clients flooding through the doors in recent months. Working one to one with clients is the best way to address individualised treatment packages and to see what is really going on behind the scenes to create the tension, but online packages as can be seen show huge improvements to sufferers.

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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Taunton TA1 & Burnham On Sea TA8
Written by Elise De Viell, BSc Psychology (hons.) AHD, HPD, DHP, MNCH, AfSFH
Taunton TA1 & Burnham On Sea TA8

Elise has been practicing as a Hypnotherapist in Somerset since 2012, and works from 3 busy clinics in Taunton, Bridgwater and Burnham-on-Sea.
She has achieved advanced level qualifications in hypnotherapy (level 5), as well as a degree in psychology which gives clients reassurance of her capabilities to support them with life's challenges.

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