MIND YOUR TOOTH-GRINDING

“I grind my teeth and keep my thumbs in so tight that I’ve dislocated them, just not to scream. Sometimes as an actor one is lucky enough to be asked to scream.”

– Jane Birklin

Bruxism is the medical term used to describe involuntary clenching of the jaw muscles and/or grinding of the teeth. The term originates from Greek word brychein, which literally translates to “gnashing of the teeth.” Even if the individual doesn’t realize it, he or she may be grinding their teeth. Thankfully, however, hypnotherapy may offer an effective, non-invasive treatment option for this condition.

According to some estimates, up to 20% of Americans suffer from bruxism. What’s even more alarming, however, is that 80% of these people don’t know they have it. It’s not uncommon for people to grind their teeth while they are asleep, completely unaware of their habit and the damage it’s caused.

Orthodontists believe bruxism is one of the prime causes of misaligned teeth, which is why it’s important for parents to discourage this habit in children. People who grind their teeth for months or years at a time essentially train the shape of their jaw and teeth alignment. Instead of a healthy mouth of aligned teeth, people with this condition may require braces, retainers and/or oral corrective surgery.

Grinding of the teeth eventually wears away the protective outer layer of enamel, which subsequently leaves the teeth susceptible to dental caries (cavities). Bacteria will enter through the damaged enamel, where they reproduce and thrive while causing permanent damage.

People may unknowingly grind their teeth while they are awake and conscious as well. This is especially true in people with high stress/anxiety levels. When your body is tense, the muscles naturally constrict; thus, forcing the upper and lower jaw bones to come together and your teeth to touch.

There are two primary cause of bruxism: age and stress. Babies and infants are generally more likely to grind their teeth than adults. As they get older, the risk of bruxism drops and the condition often goes away. Stress, on the other hand, is a precursor of bruxism that often targets older individuals.

Being that bruxism is classified as psychological condition, hypnotherapy may offer relief to individuals suffering from it. The goal of hypnotherapy is to train the patient to stop clenching his or her jaw on a subconscious level. Depending on the circumstances (every patient is different), the hypnotherapist may offer suggestions to the patient while he or she is under a sate of hypnosis. A study published in PubMed found that just seven sessions of hynotherapy completely cured a patient’s nighttime bruxism.