What is Bruxism/TMJ and How Can Hypnotherapy Help?
Before we dive into the hypnotherapy part, let’s talk about what bruxism and TMJ are first for clarity’s sake. Bruxism is a medical condition distinguished by jaw clenching and grinding of the teeth, especially while sleeping. Continual grinding and clenching can cause dental damage, jaw pain, and may even lead to chronic headaches, affecting your quality of life.
There are two types of bruxism: primary, which occurs with no known underlying causes, and secondary (the most common), which is the symptom of another medical or psychological condition.
How Can Bruxism Develop?
It’s theorized by doctors and psychologists that bruxism is strongly connected with stress and anxiety. If you tend to clench your jaw or grind your teeth while under stress (a form of bruxism itself) this may carry over into your subconscious sleeping habits. Another theory is that it provides a soothing effect like thumb sucking.
Stress and Anxiety: Estimated that 70% of cases of bruxism can be linked to stress and anxiety.
Tension: Tying in with stress and anxiety, tension doesn’t go away once you fall asleep, especially if you are prone to tension headaches or a tight clenched jaw (when you’re awake).
Intense Focus: An example would be studying for an exam, and you end up chewing on the end of a pencil when you are intensely focused. This type of bruxism’s residual effects can carry over into sleep.
Medications: Certain medications (antidepressants like Zoloft and Paxil as well as some antipsychotic medications) have been speculated to cause bruxism, mainly those that cause changes to the central nervous system which can stimulate jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
Lifestyle Factors: Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, caffeine, and drug use have been guessed to cause bruxism or make it worse.
Sleep Disorders: People who already suffer from an existing sleep disorder, such as snoring, sleep apnea, sleep paralysis, semi-conscious sleep hallucinations and sleep walking (among others) seem to be more prone to bruxism.
What is TMJ?
The TMJ-temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur) joint connects your jawbone to your skull, acting like a sliding hinge with one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorders cause pain in the jaw joint and in the muscles that control movement of the jaw.
Symptoms of TMJ:
- Pain or tenderness of the jaw
- Pain in one or both jaw joints
- Aching pain in and around the ears
- Difficulty with chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
TMJ disorders can cause a clicking or popping sound or a grinding sensation while chewing or opening your mouth.
The cause of a person’s TMJ disorder can be difficult to determine and may be due to genetics, arthritis, or jaw injury. People who have jaw pain tend to clench or grind their teeth, though many do so habitually and never develop TMJ disorders. TMJ can also be a resulting symptom from having bruxism, which is why it’s the main focus in this article.
If you have persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw, or if you can’t fully open or close your jaw, get it checked out by a dentist for sure!
How Can Hypnotherapy Help Me?
Bruxism has no known “cure,” meaning there is no pill or concoction your doctor can prescribe that will magically make it go away. There are things you can do to alleviate the root causes and, in some cases, may minimize the physical symptoms the condition creates.
Since bruxism is clearly an unconscious habit, hypnotherapy is a logical treatment option. Through hypnosis, your hypnotherapist can tackle the root cause of bruxism by teaching techniques to help you manage your stress, become calmer, and help develop a more positive mindset. Hypnotherapy treats the real underlying cause and not just the symptoms.
It is best to seek out medical advice from your healthcare provider before going ahead with any kind of treatment options, including hypnotherapy. They can ensure there aren’t any underlying health issues that may be causing the bruxism, or more serious things like hypertension or heart disease. Your body is interconnected with your oral health, so the best approach to treating bruxism is to treat the body, conscious and unconscious mind.
If both you and your healthcare provider have decided that hypnotherapy is worth a try, please let me know. Contact me today and feel free to share any questions or concerns you may have.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Healing Soul Hypnosis and a clickable link back to this page.