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Night time clenching and bruxism

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Shabda-girl, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Shabda-girl

    Shabda-girl Peer Supporter

    It's been a while since I've visited, but I've had on-going struggles with clenching my teeth at night and I need some ideas. I have never clenched during my waking hours. It only happens while I sleep and have no control over what I'm doing with my muscles. I've tried many things, though, in all honesty, I'm probably not very good at sticking with different techniques long enough to get results. For me, if I don't notice even the smallest improvement right away, it's hard to have faith in it. I've tried many things that work right away, but didn't seem to help with continued use, and then get frustrated. I am fully aware that the grinding and clenching is due completely to TMS. I am a classic TMSer- have known for many years now. I do really well (most days), with not putting focus on my body pains, but the grinding has caused some wear on my teeth and that makes it hard for me to just not think about. I've tried all kinds of night guards and bite splints. The one I have been currently using is great in theory- it is a guard that covers your front top teeth, which keeps the back teeth from touching. But I've just switched to clenching my front teeth- which still puts the jaw muscles in a state of stress, and I am in pain with that thing in my mouth- though it's the best one I've tried. I've been taking adrenal support supplements (herbs, vitamin b etc.), closed the night with slow breathing, fallen off and back on the journal wagon, tapped away with EFT, written calming strokes (as done with graphology), been reading works by and based on Sarno's, listened to binaural beats, relaxation music etc. I kind of have the problem of trying a bunch of things at the same time, then getting overwhelmed with the time it takes to do all of those things everyday, and end up fizzling out. I just read the EFT and TMS thread and think I might want to try the combo of journaling and then tapping it away with EFT, but I always feel like I have to hurry up and figure out what I can do for the bruxing before my teeth get really messed up. I know Sarno recommends not even paying attention to it, but I get worried about the fact that at night, I have no control about of what I am thinking or doing (I know, the worry about it in the waking hours is actually the act of putting my focus on it). I guess I'm just having a really stuck TMS moment and need some ideas and encouragement. My family and I moved to Texas from CO 5 months ago, and it has been VERY hard. I don't do well with change or leaving my security (all that I ever knew- CO., as well as my family and friends.) I appreciate any help or support anyone has to offer. I would love to find a TMS book that talks a lot about clenching, so that I could have help in finding a different and healthier point of view.
    Thanks again,
    jaumeb likes this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Shabda-girl.

    Sorry you have sleep bruxism. I’m not a dentist or a psychologist, but doing a little research I find that you’re definitely not alone having noctural tooth grinding. About 8 per cent of adults grind their teeth at night and a third of parents surveyed said their children do it.

    It looks to me like it is another TMS symptom, and one study I read about linked it with anxiety and stress.

    The good news is that psychiatric or psychological factors reportedly do not play a role, in most cases. Use of some medications including amphetamines are also associated with episodes of bruxism.

    The National Sleep Foundation says tooth grinding at night is occasionally linked with daytime stress. To ease symptoms, the foundation suggests trying to relax in the hours before bedtime, to reduce stress levels and to “maintain a regular soothing bedtime routine.”

    The NSF says the problem may be caused by sleeping on the back and suggests trying to sleep on the side or stomach.

    You’re doing the right TMS treatment things such as journaling, tapping, listening to relaxing music before bedtime.
    Don't watch tv news late at night, or a movie that might stay in your mind when you go to bed. When you are in bed and ready to sleep, try deep breathing and saying a positive mantra such as "I'm feeling sleepy. I'm ready to fall asleep."

    Let us know how you're progressing. And if anyone has suggestions, please share them.

    Aren’t I lucky? I have an upper plate so when I go to bed I put it in a glass of water overnight. There’s no way I can just grind my lower teeth. LOL.
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    There's another string on TMJ and Bruxism already on the Forum:


    This is only anecdotal of course (what isn't?), but I recently heard that dentists have noticed an uptick in TMJ among their patients since the onset of the economic downturn in 2007-2008. Broader economic stressors in the economy are impacting the personal psychology of the private individual? I bet they are! I also heard that the hospital emergency rooms were filled with patients with psychogenic complaints for two weeks after 9/11.
  4. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    I have this too, and even though I'm doing well now pain-wise, this is one that often sticks around. I find it hard to ignore because unlike back or sciatic pain, I actually do have damage to my teeth from it. There are many possible physical causes, but in me I think it's just symptom substitution because it happens during times of stress. The one thing you might try if you haven't already is giving the jaw muscles a massage just before bed. It does not get to the root of the problem, but might give some temporary relief. By the way, I have the same frontal mouthguard as you, and even though I don't clench my front geeth, I still have a painful molar in the morning! Definitely TMS in my case.
  5. Shabda-girl

    Shabda-girl Peer Supporter

    BruceMC I have read the other TMJ forum. There were a few things that helped. This is all TMS related (not physical causes- been checked out thoroughly). Stress, anxiety, and adrenal fatigue lead directly to jaw issues. My old chiro. worked on the stress and adrenal points (along with points on the jaw) for ages, but I have moved to another state- plus I have to stop relying on chiros. etc., because it's a temporary fix, makes things worse (TMS wise), and costs too much money. I always go right back to clenching shortly after adjustments etc. anyway. I am a retired massage therapist and do tons of facial massage and trigger point therapy when I'm desperate (but nothing helps with the root cause- stress and anxiety). I struggle with an anxiety disorder, so that doesn't help. I'm guessing that it's probably better to protect my teeth and have pain vs. not protect my teeth and have pain. I just feel like the night guard causes a whole set of other pains. I guess I just need to keep going back to journaling and breathing. This one just might always be my one chronic TMS struggle. I'm working on acceptance, but I'm just having a stuck moment right now. Thanks for everyone's support and information.
  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sounds like journaling and breathing, Shabda-g, are the two most important things to concentrate on in order to dissipate what you term 'the root cause - stress and anxiety'. All the other symptoms usually appear as a result of that underlying tension - the T of TMS. Get rid of that and all the other things simply self-correct. Easier said than done? Yup!
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hello love,

    Given this is my personal bête noir, I must add some thoughts from the field. Bruxism is an unusual case of tms because there is the possibility of causing some damage to self. This nicely ratchets the fear and serves to seperate us sufferers from the rest of the pack somewhat. This is occasionally evidenced by advice given (not here, I hasten to add), which demonstrates a remarkable lack of insight. For some of us intervention like a mouth guard are vital. For me though, they don't work. I've had three and chewed them all and woke up with pain from that. And they make you drool which is simply not attractive.

    About four years ago I had a procedure done called calibration where your teeth are filed down so that any proud or sticky-out parts are smoothed away. The theory is that this prevents damage and for some people it remedies their pain completely. They still brux but the teeth don't catch each other. It's costly and for me it didn't work. So I've ticked mouthguards and calibration off the list. Chiro helps on the day and trigger point/massage has been hit and miss. I dealt with tp's in the masseters beautifully but elsewhere it has only made matters worse. Of course none of these things deal with the root cause but I offer my experience as insight and in the spirit of wounded intimacy.

    I've tried all on your list including hypnosis...

    After all the negativity, let me shine a light.
    I had a massive improvement recently following a visit to my dentist where he manipulated the tension from my jaw. At the start of the session, the way I braced and resisted him was incredible. It was completely unconscious and demonstrated perfectly that in that moment I couldn't relax my jaw if my life depended on it. It was quite something to tangibly realise the extreme tension I hold there. Sadly it's all back now but I hold the spark of memory and am certain that complete healing and calm is possible. Getting to that point is the kicker.

    I've successfully dealt with back, shoulder and neck pain but this tmj/bruxing/bracing is tenatious. I know you've read my post on tmj so no need to go over that again here, other than to say I truly believe the answers are there. It's not easy. My problem ramped with my husband's diagnosis and living with it is a ton of stress every day. I realised recently just what an immense pressure I'm under. That may sound obvious but really we tend to get on with matters and not dwell too much. Lots of calming, lots of soothing required.

    I would love to hear from someone who has overcome bruxing and severe tmj.
    Meantime I'm completely with you in spirit Megan. May we both heal from this.
  8. Moose

    Moose Peer Supporter

    Hi Megan, I started the other post on TMJ. I have a mouth splint - it just goes over my lower teeth, and the dentist moulded it to fit my teeth specifically. It's a little uncomfortable but it doesn't hurt me and I would suggest that if yours does, you get it looked at and maybe get a better one? Just to protect your teeth. I am finding some comfort in using it, because I know that I am at least not damaging my teeth, which takes the pressure off me to heal so quickly (which with TMS has only got to be a good thing!)

    I've also had a 'stuck' jaw on one side, on and off. Recently, it's been stuck all the time - although I've noticed over the last few days that it's gradually becoming unstuck, not dramatically and crunchily like it has in the past, but gradually and gently. This gives me hope that I may actually be getting better and not clenching *quite* so hard all night (although I am still definitely clenching!). I also saw my doctor yesterday because I have an earache, and I mentioned my jaw problems because I thought it could be related. She knows about my issues with anxiety and other TMS symptoms (hand/arm pain), and reassured me that bruxing was almost certainly due to stress and could easily cause a 'stuck' jaw. So if you haven't seem a doctor or dentist, it can be worth it just for some reassurance that you're ok physically. Interestingly, TMJ is one of the few Mindbody disorders that mainstream medicine actually recognises can be caused solely by stress or tension.

    Can I ask if you have trouble sleeping? I certainly do, it takes me a while to get to sleep and then my sleep tends to be restless, which adds to the amount of clenching I do, even if I try and relax and meditate before bed. Paradoxically, the more I attempt to relax before bed by meditating or doing Hanna somatic exercises, or whatever, the more I feel that I 'should' get to sleep easily, so the greater an expectation I set up for myself and the harder it can be to actually fall asleep!

    Also, it just sounds like you are putting so much pressure on yourself to get better and do everything 'right'. I'm exactly the same way, but it causes more problems that it solves sometimes. I'm trying to revise downwards my expectations for what I can do in a day. It's one reason that the Structured Education program has taken me over 3 months to get through (I'm on day 38!) - originally I wanted to be a good girl and do it every day, but you know what, life just gets in the way sometimes, and sometimes I just feel like doing something for fun instead! I still do want to be perfect, but am having to accept that I'm not and that's ok.

    I know it's all just words, we all know what we should be doing to get better but in reality it's hard and me saying 'I'm trying not to be a perfectionist' doesn't mean I've actually managed to stop being a perfectionist yet. Some days I convince myself I'm making progress and other days I feel like I'm right back at square one. I don't have any answers for you, but I can offer you some empathy. I think with TMS healing, everyone has to blaze their own trail and work out the hard way how to change for the better.
  9. leonardo999

    leonardo999 Well known member

    I cant say Ive ever been aware of grinding my teeth,,, but I often bite down on them to relieve stress maybe... Only an occasional thing. When Im songwriting I use my teeth to tap out a gentle drum rhythm by rattling them gently from side to side... yes probably a weird drum machine but its amazing how much control there is over that little movement.
    The main problem I do have is trying to take a gentle bite out of something,,,, and pow! my jaw sometimes slams shut with a force that would take off the tip of my tongue for sure,,,, not nice.
  10. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yeah, Moose. Each of us has to work out our own way through TMS pain.
    It helped me a lot to just believe my back pain was from repressed emotions and
    then journaling to discover what those were. Then the pain went away.
    Not overnight, but over a month or so. I had a lot of repressed emotions.
  11. Shabda-girl

    Shabda-girl Peer Supporter

    I can't thank each of you enough for taking the time to respond. Yes I'm a perfectionist and yes I do have trouble falling asleep and when I do different relaxation exercises, I too, then find myself putting pressure on myself to fall asleep quicker, which then of course does the opposite. It's nice to know that I'm not alone. I have a different mouthguard now that fits better, and helps, so I'm feeling like I can relax a little bit more about being patient with myself and not feeling like I need to hurry up and get better. It's been a traumatic past three years, with my dad dying to years ago, then my grandpa dying in November, and then we moved to a new state 5 mo.ago, leaving everything behind. There's no question why I'm clenching and bruxing, but some days I just wish, I handled stress so much better than I do. It will really help me to go back and read your postings over and over because you all really offered me some wonderful support and suggestions.
    Moose likes this.
  12. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, no question at all: double abandonment and dislocation all together destabilized your 'grund' (philosophic and personal ground). But just being aware of these stressors behind your anxiety should give you a handle on your situation and suggest a path toward self-soothing, as you note, via journaling and EFT. Whatever does the job!

    Shabda-girl likes this.
  13. fridaynotes

    fridaynotes Well known member

    it's three years on, but i'd like to add something to this post...
    i have suffered from various other TMS issues and teeth grinding is one that has been coming on strong and i agree, is much harder to get rid of than back pain. in fact, i found that since i realized my back pain was TMS and it went away, that was about when i started grinding my teeth. it acted as a TMS equivalent for me.
    when i started using a mouth-guard, i noticed i began having acid reflux issues. it was as if when i stopped the grinding the reflux took its place! and i can't think of which one is worse!
    so, i stopped the mouthguard and my GERD seems to have gotten a little bit better. but the grinding still persists. this is all so exhausting that i recently made an appointment to see a therapist because there must be some deep down issues causing all this.
  14. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Give me back pain any day over this! I also successfully rid myself of back problems but find this mouth-woe dragon to be a nightmare beast to slay.

    I can offer hope though in that I have found deep and good quality sleep, yin yoga, swimming, reading real books and other calming downtime activities have made a dramatic difference. Until recently I was healing very nicely but an extremely stressful event early in the year has bumped me off track. Slowly but surely I am regaining ground though and am encouraged by a lessening of the pain.

    I'm honestly not convinced you need to find the issues. I did a helluva lot of that in the early days and got precisely nowhere. I'm not saying don't give it a shot but maybe try incorporating oodles of soothing into the mix.

    Recently I've been extolling the virtues of pleasure as this also helps counter and soften clenching. In the end when we are as tight as a coiled spring we have to recognise the need to unwind.

    Body-oriented methods work like a charm for me. Mindfulness is also a great circuit-breaker. The emotional route proved to be a dead-end.

    To each their own.
    I wish you immense soothing and much joy.

  15. Yulia1975

    Yulia1975 Peer Supporter

    I have my TMJ clicking without any reason, and often feel jaw tightness.
    I probably clench, but I don't notice.
    Just wondering if you guys feel neck and shoulder pain/tension/stifness along with TMJ issues?
  16. Etiology

    Etiology Newcomer

    Found a root cause of my bruxism: airway disruption, due to stomach gas. So, I'm trying to belch while asleep, which naturally can't be done at the same time as breathing. Not sure why this should trigger the clenching, but for practical purposes I don't need to know that. I only need to know how to manage diet and exercise so as to minimize stomach gas. When I do, there's no tooth pain, headache, or jaw tightness.

    Another bruxism sufferer on dailystrength.org reported relief after changing sleep posture so as to control obstructive sleep apnea. Cause of the apnea in her case was overbite and receded chin.

    It occurs to me that possibly bruxism is the invariable response of certain susceptible individuals such as ourselves to obstructive sleep apnea. That is, bruxism being the effect, whatever the specific cause of the apnea.

    Some general info on causes of apnea is at nhlbi.nih.gov -- anyone trying to get to a root cause of his or her own bruxism might do well to study the site for any that could be responsible.
  17. MrRage

    MrRage Peer Supporter

    My clenching was a TMS manifestation. Nowadays it isn't too much of a problem and I don't grind on my teeth like I used to.

    My back pain is still a bit of a problem on most days. It's not nearly as bad as it was before discovering Sarno. I don't know why I've stopped clenching but I'm not going to complain! It definitely has something to do with TMS though.

    If I start clenching again, it will be because I have read this topic!
  18. antmbjr

    antmbjr Newcomer

    Hello everyone, I grind my teeth when I sleep at night. I have been looking for a way to stop grinding my teeth and saw this on Indiegogo:
    I have pledge for one and am hoping that it can help me stop grinding my teeth at night.
  19. fridaynotes

    fridaynotes Well known member

    I too, have gotten over TMS-related back pain and gastro-intenstinal distress but the teeth clenching has remained. I know it is a TMS related issue and has already done considerable damage to my teeth and is my current issue that I am dealing with. A tenacious and difficult TMS related problem, but I know it can be overcome.
  20. JuliaJulia

    JuliaJulia Newcomer

    I also do this! I had a very sturdy night guard made and although I still do it at least I’m not breaking my teeth anymore!

    I also clench my fist and wear an arm brace to help with that.

    You’re not alone!

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