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Can acupuncture help to stop teeth grinding?

A:  It came as a surprise to us that there have been a number of studies of teeth grinding/bruxism. One example of this is

and another

although it has to be said that this is an unusual approach, not drawing on traditional acupuncture but on auricular acupuncture which is a much more modern development.

The problem of bruxism is usually described as multifactorial, arising from a combination of causes and very often having a mental and emotional causes as well as arising as a consequence of conditions like sleep apnoea and from some forms of medication. Some of these causes are very commonly treated by acupuncture, as our factsheet on anxiety, for example, shows

The only way to get a clear answer, though, would be to visit a BAcC member local to you for a brief informal assessment of what treatment may be able to offer. The main purpose of seeing you face to face would be to check whether this was a stand-alone symptom, or whether there were other factors involved. In Chinese medicine diagnosis it is rare to find a single free-standing symptom. Most symptoms are evidence of a functional disorder within the system as a whole, and the Organs of the body (capitalised to distinguish what this means from the western concept of an organ) have a range of functions which means that a single one out of kilter might generate several symptoms manifesting on different levels. The skill of the practitioner lies in getting information from patients about their overall functioning and making sense of the various ways in which these depart from their normal range.

If the practitioner can see immediate connections which point to straightforward treatments, they will be able to give you a good idea of how successful treatment may be. Even if there are no obvious connections it does not mean that treatment may not work; the most ancient systems were asymptomatic, driven by the simple belief that a symptom in balance did not generate symptoms and that these would lessen and go. Versions of this style of treatment are still very popular and successful today.

You can find a list of practitioners close to where you live by using the postcode search function on our home page.