Hypnosis and Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)


Bruxism is very common, particularly in conjunction with stress and anxiety and is often not recognised by the individual for lengthy periods of time. Many times it is not until someone else tells them to stop grinding their teeth, that a person becomes aware of it.

This unconsciously driven habit, as they all are, is very amenable to treatment by hypnosis because of the unconscious nature and the ability for hypnosis to access the unconscious enabling patients/clients, with guidance, to resolve the reasons behind the Bruxism.

As always you are free to make up your own mind after reading the research below.

Bruxism

Study 1: Case Study – Hypnosis Helps Nocturnal Bruxism
Nocturnal Bruxism and Hypnotherapy: A Case Study
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207144.2013.753832?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub=pubmed#preview

Results: At the end of the 7 hypnotherapy sessions, the bruxism had disappeared. Follow-up 1 year later indicated that the bruxism had not returned, and the client had become more assertive in her relations with others and had more exploratory activities in her life directions. The latter had not been dealt with in therapy. Thus, there appeared to be a “ripple effect” of successful therapy from one part of her life into its other aspects.

Notes: This article describes a case study of a hypnotherapeutic treatment of nocturnal bruxism. The author saw the client for a total of 7 hypnotherapy sessions.
It seems that a third party obtained this full research article and provided more details at http://www.hypnotherapy-glasgow.net/index.php/glasgow-hypnotherapy-about-hypnotherapy/hypnotherapy-for-teeth-grinding-bruxism-in-glasgow/.

Some of those details are listed below.
The client had been bruxing for more than 20 years, only at night. The result had been a sore jaw most mornings and consistent sleep interruption. Hypnosis was focused around the following themes:

(a) Allowing herself to “let go” and to learn new things about herself. It was suggested that her “unconscious mind” (a metaphor, following Milton Erickson) would begin to learn new ways of acting in the world;

(b) Shedding old roles in life and old discomforts and pains. While she was in trance, it was suggested that her strategy in life so far had been conservational, in that she was protecting herself. She could now begin to adopt a strategy of being transformational. It was compared metaphorically to adding new rooms to an existing house; the central core of the house (herself) remains the same, while new rooms (representing new actions, new ways of looking at things, new ideas) undergo significant change. The same person grows and develops while remaining centrally the same. The phrase “growing and developing; developing and growing” was used;

(c) Making new connections among her thoughts, feelings, and actions as she grows and develops. It was suggested that these connections will go around, under, through, and over her walls, gradually crumbling them and making them more permeable and transparent. It was suggested that as she continues to grow and develop she will no longer need her old ways of coping and the discomfort to her mind and body (metaphorically the jaw pain) they have produced; and

(d) “Letting go” (multifaceted) – letting go of her fear and letting go of the pain in her jaw (phrased as discomfort). They were, it was suggested, elements of her past she has now outgrown.

About a year later after the hypnotherapy sessions, the client reported that the jaw pain had not returned. Furthermore, her relationship with her husband and especially her mother had continued to improve. She had even made plans to return to school for an advanced degree and said, “I don’t think I would have done that before.” The author noted that he usually avoids direct suggestions in hypnosis and instead uses metaphors and stories to avoid arousing resistance.
The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 2013

Apr;61:205-18
By: E. Thomas Dowd, Dept. of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Study 2: Case Study – Hypnosis Helps Bruxism (Improvement Maintained Five Years After Hypnosis)
Understanding change: five-year follow-up of brief hypnotic treatment of chronic bruxism
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8203355

Results: A woman with a 60-year history of bruxism became symptom-free using hypnosis. This case demonstrates how enduring change may occur. Follow-up assessments at 2, 3, and 5 years revealed that she continued to be symptom-free with her self-reports corroborated by her spouse and family dentist.

Notes: This paper describes the treatment of a 63-year-old woman with a 60-year history of nocturnal bruxism. Treatment included assessment, two psychotherapy sessions, including a paradoxical behavior prescription to reduce daytime worrying, hypnotic suggestions for control of nocturnal grinding, and reinforcement of the patient’s expectations for success.

Am J Clin Hypn. 1994 Apr;36(4):276-81
By: M. B. LaCrosse, Monroe Mental Health Center, Inc., Norfolk, NE

Study 3: Hypnosis Helps Nocturnal Bruxism and Related Facial Pain
Suggestive hypnotherapy for nocturnal bruxism: a pilot study
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00029157.1991.10402942#.UhqVYRavszI

Results: 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.

Notes: This study describes the use of suggestive hypnotherapy and looks at its effectiveness in treating bruxism. Eight subjects who reported bruxism with symptoms such as muscle pain and complaints of bruxing noise from sleep partners were accepted into the study. An objective baseline of the bruxing was established using a portable electromyogram (EMG) detector attached over the masseter muscle during sleep. Hypnotherapy was then employed. Both self-reports and posttreatment EMG recordings were used to evaluate the hypnotherapy. Long-term effects were evaluated by self-reports only.

American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. 1991 Apr;33(4):248-53
By: J. H. Clarke, P. J. Reynolds

Study 4: Hypnosis for Temporomandibular Disorders (problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles)
Medical hypnosis for temporomandibular disorders: Treatment efficacy and medical utilization outcome
http://www.calmhorizon.co.uk/downloads/tmd-and-hypnosis.pdf

Results: Statistical analysis of this open trial suggests that medical hypnosis is a potentially valuable treatment modality for temporomandibular disorders (TMD). After hypnosis, patients reported a significant decrease in pain frequency (F [3, 87] = 14.79, P < .001), pain duration (F [3, 87] = 9.56, P < .001), and pain intensity (F [3, 87] = 15.08, P < .001), and an increase in daily functioning. Analysis suggests that their symptoms did not simply spontaneously improve, and that their treatment gains were maintained for 6 months after hypnosis treatment.

Notes: The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of medical hypnosis on reducing the pain symptoms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD).Twenty-eight patients who were recalcitrant to conservative treatment for TMD participated in a medical hypnosis treatment program and completed measures of their pain symptoms on 4 separate occasions: during wait list, before hypnotic treatment, after hypnotic treatment, and at a 6-month follow-up.

Hypnosis involved, typically with eye closure inductions, imagery to evoke relaxation, catalepsy of a limb, hypnotic-deepening techniques, metaphors to induce automatic or unconscious bodily responses, hypnotic analgesia and anesthesia, and suggestions that use muscle tension, pain, or both as a cue for automatic muscle relaxation. An example of this follows: “I will now give you a very powerful post-hypnotic suggestion… that should you ever feel any tension in your jaw… head… neck… or shoulders… that is related to your medical, dental condition… it will be an immediate signal and cue to you for your muscles to relax… you will immediately take 2 deep relaxing breaths… and envision the healing ball causing the muscles to immediately relax… let go… release the tension… numbing the entire area… and then absorbing… any remaining pain or discomfort in those areas… as those muscles relax some more… and that’s just fine… you may be consciously aware of carrying out this healing process… or maybe just simply aware of carrying this process out at an unconscious level… as those muscles let go of the tension immediately… and your healing continues… and you will be surprised to find that this process occurs even during your sleep… instructing you that your unconscious is protecting you whether you had realized it or not…” with the addition of posthypnotic suggestions for relapse prevention. At the end of each session, patients were instructed to practice daily self-hypnosis with audiotaped recordings of the hypnotic inductions.

Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2000;90:54-63
By: E. Simon, D. Lewis. Eric P. Simon, Ph.D., ABPP (Department of Psychology, Multi-Disciplinary Pain Clinic) and David M. Lewis, DDS, (Dept of Dentistry) Honolulu, Hawaii, Tripler Regional Medical Center and the University of Hawaii.

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