Treating TMJ issues: restless legs and sleep bruxism

A new clue about bruxism.

A neurology practice noted that of its patients who had restless legs syndrome (RLS), 60% also had bruxism (grinding teeth during sleep). They found that 52% had RLS, bruxism, and migraines.

Do you relate?

The lead neurologist for this study speculated there is a gene that links these conditions.

It gets more interesting. Both restless legs syndrome and bruxism are involuntary movements occurring during sleep. Is bruxism “restless jaw syndrome?”

I’m always happy to see more research about TMJ-related issues, especially because there are so many factors that play a role in jaw dysfunction and pain.

More about bruxism.

Bruxism includes clenching and grinding the teeth. Some distinguish these as “waking bruxism” and “sleep bruxism”.

They may have different causes, in my opinion.

Sleep bruxism, in contrast to daytime clenching, is hard to treat because it occurs when unaware of your behavior and unable to change it.

Waking bruxism is a habit that can change with awareness and practice. I’ve helped many clenchers learn how to relax their mouth position.

Some things I’ve noted about bruxism in my manual therapy practice:

  • Many people don’t know they grind during sleep until a dentist tells them they have damaged teeth.
  • Bruxism often requires expensive dental work: mouthguards or splints to prevent further damage, and crowns to fortify cracked or broken teeth.
  • Sometimes the noise of grinding during sleep is loud enough to wake up family members, and that’s how people learn they have sleep bruxism.
  • People who grind at night often wake up with jaw, face, or neck pain, earaches, and/or headaches.
  • Over time, bruxism can damage the temporomandibular joints, possibly requiring surgery.

Dentists and jaw issues.

Many people expect dentists to be experts on jaw issues, yet their domain is treating the teeth and gums.

Learning about TMJ disorders is not required in dental school.

General practice dentists can prevent further tooth damage with appliances like mouthguards and splints. They can repair existing tooth damage.

Some dentists may try to adjust the positioning of the TMJs, and a few dentists also address airway issues (like sleep apnea, which also may accompany sleep bruxism) in their work.

Dentists do not address stress or tension in the jaw muscles, which contribute so much to jaw pain.

Some dentists and hygienists in the Austin area refer people with jaw pain or issues opening wide to me. (New alternative to manual therapy during the COVID pandemic: my upcoming online course, Self-Help for Jaw Pain.)

Solutions to try.

If you grind your teeth during sleep, it is possible to stop by using hypnotherapy and EFT.

I often recommend a recorded hypnotherapy session for bruxism that’s available on YouTube to listen to before sleep.

I don’t know if it works for everyone, but it’s soothing — I always fall asleep before it ends. Less stress is always desirable.

As mentioned above, dopamine agonists are prescribed for low dopamine levels.

Dopamine is released when your brain is expecting a reward — when you anticipate a pleasurable activity such as eating a delicious meal, spending time with someone you love, or receiving a big check.

It’s sometimes called “the happy hormone” because it affects your enthusiasm, motivation, and focus.

If you suffer from bruxism, before going the pharmaceutical route with dopamine agonist drugs, you may want to consider nutrition — consuming foods or taking supplements that raise your dopamine levels.

In particular the amino acid tyrosine increases dopamine.

I found a few links that may be helpful:

Update from MaryAnn, 5.1.2020

I can see that my posts about TMJ issues are getting a lot of views. I’ve even gotten a few phone calls.

I am not able to offer any bodywork sessions at this time, by Texas law. I can only offer distance energy healing sessions on a sliding scale basis. Both the recipients of those sessions and I have experienced success with this way of working. It can be even more powerful than doing sessions in person.

I encourage you, if these weird times are bringing up your stuff, to set up an appointment.

Even when it becomes legal to work again, I am holding off until I feel comfortable that it’s safe for you, me, the person who comes in after you, and my officemates and their clients.

I would prefer more testing.

I would prefer more knowledge about antibodies.

I would prefer more knowledge about prevention. (Some not-yet-peer-reviewed research says that those with high Vitamin D levels in their blood had the mildest cases, so please, supplement and get some safe sun. If you’d like to order this and whatever other supplements you need online, you get 30% off using my Wellevate practitioner account: https://wellevate.me/mary-ann-reynolds.)

My safety concerns especially apply to my TMJ Relief sessions, which include working inside the mouth. It will take longer for me to safely bring those back.

If you have TMJ issues, please search for and join my Facebook group Word of Mouth: Resources for TMJ Issues/Dysfunction, if you haven’t already. It includes educational units about TMJ issues, including self-massage, exercises, yoga, and hypnosis that can be done at home.

Wishing you wellness.

Join our class, Relaxed Jaw: Learn How to Unwind Tension, Pain, and Grinding

Siri Scull, certified hypnotist, coach, and nutritionist, and I (MaryAnn Reynolds, LMT, board certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork, provider of TMJ relief sessions) are offering a free class on April 1, 7:30-8:45 pm at Soma Vida.

This first class is free, and we ask that you claim a ticket on Eventbrite so we can be sure to have enough seating for everyone.

This (optional) class serves as an introduction to our 4-class series offered remotely via Zoom on April 8, 15, 22, and 29 at the same time period.

This 4-class series includes:
~ Hypnotic visualizations to help you unwind tightness
~ Specialized exercises and techniques to soften the jaw
~ Nutritional & supplement suggestions to promote relaxation
~ Best sleep practices to promote a relaxed jaw
~ Ongoing support as you change habits on a conscious and unconscious level

The tuition is $149 for the 4-class series taught over Zoom. Save $25 if you bring a friend! You may pay MaryAnn via PayPal (paypal.me/maryannreynolds) or Venmo (www.venmo.com/MaryAnn-Reynolds-1) at the April 1st meeting or before April 8 to secure your spot.

Class is taught by Mary Ann Reynolds, MS, LMT, board certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork, providing TMJ Relief sessions and packages, AND Siri Scull, NC CHt, certified Hypnotherapist, Coach, and Nutritional Counselor specializing in habit change.

Learn more about the instructors at maryannreynolds.com and siriwellness.com

Contact me, MaryAnn Reynolds, at mareynolds27@gmail.com or (512)-507-4184 (leave VM or text) if you have any questions.

We hope to see you at our informational meeting on April 1, or via Zoom for the class series, or both!

Change in office hours

My commitments to working with clients, teaching, writing, learning, and living a balanced life have grown. 

I am changing my office hours for advanced integrative bodywork to Tuesday through Friday. You will not be able to book sessions online outside my regular days and hours. 

Source: https://www.theenglishgarden.co.uk

If you need to meet outside my regular hours (earlier than 10 or later than 6 on weekdays or on a Saturday), please contact me via the Contact page on this website, text, email, or phone (leave a VM please) so we can discuss.

Thank you in advance for understanding.

Shorter office hours this week

I’ll be out of the office on Friday and Saturday this week — I’m participating in a night walking retreat at the Canyon of the Eagles Friday through Sunday. (I’ve done it before, so will miss the first day. There’s still room if you’re interested in (1) something different, (2) something relaxing, (3) removing yourself from the hustle and bustle, (4) learning a lifelong skill that you can use to relieve anxiety, (5) nature, trees, woods, water, dark skies, the beginning of the Geminid meteor shower,

I have openings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and in addition to everything else, I am offering $25 off on my Heavenly Head Massage. It’s the antidote for stress that brings relaxation like you wouldn’t believe! That discount applies to gift certificates too!