Can hypnotherapy treat bruxism (teeth grinding, clenching)?

Can hypnotherapy treat bruxism (teeth grinding, clenching)?

Can hypnosis really be used to treat bruxism?

Bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth. It is an involuntary action, observed mostly at night but may also happen in daytime. People can clench and grind without being aware of it. Approximately 8 to 10 percent of the adult population have this condition. Left untreated, it can cause damage to the teeth and surrounding tissue, headaches and jaw pain.

“The exact causes are unknown,” said Dr. Gilles Lavigne, a professor of dentistry and medicine at the University of Montreal, and president of the Canadian Sleep Society. Although the exact cause is unknown, the medical literature shows that stress, smoking, alcohol, caffeine and other factors may set off or worsen the condition.

What are the treatment for bruxism? Many dentists will suggest a mouth guard, a small plastic device that covers some or all of the teeth to protect them against damage, but does not stop the grinding or clenching itself.

The Bruxism Association also suggests hypnosis as a behavioral approach. “Hypnosis has long been under review and some bruxists have found profound relief from problems related to sleep bruxism. One study reviewed the long-terms effects of hypnosis and a positive outcome was still applicable even after 36 months.”

Suggestive hypnotherapy for nocturnal bruxism: a pilot study (1) is a research study that “describes the use of suggestive hypnotherapy and looks at its effectiveness in treating bruxism. The bruxers showed a significant decrease in EMG activity; they also experienced less facial pain and their partners reported less bruxing noise immediately following treatment and after 4 to 36 months.”

“Indications for the use of hypnosis in the treatment of bruxism in relation to its psychosomatic nature”(2) is another study which looks at “the psychosomatic etiology of bruxism. 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.”

There are also many published case reports of hypnotherapy for bruxism, demonstrating how enduring change may occur rapidly in spite of the chronicity of a patient’s complaint. Change usually happens within just a few hypnosis sessions.

There are many different approaches in hypnosis to treat bruxism. For example, direct suggestion works great with young kids. And in adults, the most effective approach might be using advanced insight based techniques to trace the root of the problem and work on it from there.

So yes, if bruxism has been bothering you, you should definitely try out hypnotherapy!

1. Suggestive hypnotherapy for nocturnal bruxism: a pilot study, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 1991 Apr;33(4):248-53.

2. Indications for the use of hypnosis in the treatment of bruxism in relation to its psychosomatic nature, Minerva Medica 1983 Dec 30;74(51-52):2975-8.

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