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Hypnotherapy for Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism is a medical term for teeth grinding, and while most people probably clench their teeth from time to time, when done regularly and unconsciously it can lead to other conditions and injury to the body.  This damage can range from damage to the teeth and dental work to hearing loss and Temporomandibular Disorder or TMD/TMJ in more severe cases.  Continued bruxing can even go so far as to change the physical stature of the face.

While the condition can certainly occur during waking hours, nocturnal or sleep bruxism can be especially damaging.  To compound the issue, like sleep walking, how is someone to take control over something that they don’t realize they’re doing while asleep?  These are areas where hypnotherapy by working with the subconscious mind has much to offer.  Not only can hypnosis be applied from a symptomatic level to stop the action of bruxing, hypnosis is known for working with the underlying stress and anxieties of life that are often cited as the root cause for bruxism.

In the coming weeks, this page will be updated with an article which will chronicle the findings of several clinical research studies on hypnosis and bruxism.  Until this is completed, the American Hypnosis Association recommends the following articles to obtain more information about the effectiveness of hypnosis when dealing with bruxism.  Each article documents a clinical research study, and we have included a brief synopsis.  Should you wish to follow up further, the reference citation is included for each.

Additionally if you would like to speak with someone or schedule an appointment, please contact us online, or call the office at 469-225-9040. 

Please note that while we often work with general stress and anxiety, true bruxism is a medical condition that must be appropriately checked out and diagnosed, and hypnotherapy should not be used in an effort to “self treat” this or any other medical condition.  Therefore burxism as with any condition that has, or possibly has an underlying medical etiology, a medical referral is required.  This will also allow us to send updates to your physician on your progress.   

William Carpenter holds a dual certification in Hypnosis and Pain Management from the American Hypnosis Association.


“Nocturnal Bruxism and Hypnotherapy: A Case Study”

Notes: This article describes a case study of a hypnotherapeutic treatment of nocturnal bruxism. 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. 

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.

Dowd, E. T. (2013). Nocturnal Bruxism and Hypnotherapy: A Case Study. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 61(2), 205-218.

“Understanding change: five-year follow-up of brief hypnotic treatment of chronic bruxism”

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.

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.

LaCrosse, M. B. (1994). Understanding change: five-year follow-up of brief hypnotic treatment of chronic bruxism. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 36(4), 276-281.

Suggestive hypnotherapy for nocturnal bruxism: a pilot study

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 post-treatment EMG recordings were used to evaluate the hypnotherapy.  Long-term effects were evaluated by self-reports only.

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.

Clarke, J. H., & Reynolds, P. J. (1991). Suggestive hypnotherapy for nocturnal bruxism: a pilot study. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 33(4), 248-253.

“Medical hypnosis for temporomandibular disorders: Treatment efficacy and medical utilization outcome”

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.

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, pain duration, and pain intensity, 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.

Simon, E. P., & Lewis, D. M. (2000). Medical hypnosis for temporomandibular disorders: Treatment efficacy and medical utilization outcome. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontology, 90(1), 54-63.