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Do you clench your jaw or grind your teeth?


If you have ever heard someone grinding their teeth during their sleep, and just how loud it is, you will have some idea how powerful the jaw muscles can be.

Jaw clenching and grinding (called bruxism) falls into two categories: awake and sleep bruxism.

The causes of this disorder are not fully understood, but stress and psychosocial factors are strongly associated with these conditions, particularly the awake form.

Bruxism, if present, is an important factor to address in jaw pain and TMJ disorders. However, the evidence does not point to any definitive, effective treatment.

If bruxism is causing excessive tooth wear, dental intervention is suggested, often for prescription mouth devices to prevent tooth wear at night.

If anxiety, depression or psychological factors are thought to be associated with bruxism, psychological support is also recommended.

Assuming that bruxism is due to a subconscious mechanism when awake, and an unconscious mechanism at night, we may want to direct intervention to our habits during awake times.

Becoming more aware of our jaw tension and habits will form the foundation for a mindfulness approach.

I recommend a guided TMJ meditation as an exercise to become more skilful in this awareness, and to help relax the powerful jaw muscles. The idea is that if we can become more conscious of this subconscious pattern, helping to change our habits during the day, there will be an affect in reducing the unconscious pattern during sleep.

There has not been any research into this, but practising some meditation and becoming more aware of our awake habits certainly cannot hurt!

If you suffer from bruxism, you might want to try our guided, 10-minute, TMJ mindfulness exercise.


I suggest practising this formally each day (or night before you sleep), and also trying to check in with jaw as may times as you can throughout the day. See if you can run your tongue between your teeth. If your jaw is clenched, think soft tongue, soft eyes and smooth brow. Perseverance is the key. Hang loose!

Frequently Asked Questions

Osteopaths are primary healthcare providers which means that no referral is necessary. If your treatment is being covered by WorkSafe, TAC or DVA, you will require a referral to ensure that your costs are covered.

We are able to treat WorkSafe, TAC, EPC and DVA patients, however you will require a referral from your GP. For TAC and WorkSafe patients we will also require your claim number and date of injury.

We are covered by private health funds via extras cover. Exact details will vary depending on the individual fund and level of cover. We do have a Hicaps machine which enables you to claim health fund payments on the spot.

For medicare rebates you must qualify for an EPC plan. You will need to discuss this with your GP, and a referral is necessary.

Yes, please bring in any X-ray, CT or MRI scan results you may have. If you have a report for these scans, make sure you bring this along as well.

During your first consultation your osteopath will ask questions about your problem and symptoms. They may also ask questions about your medical history, any medications you are taking or other factors that may not appear to be directly related to your problem. If your medical condition changes during the course of your osteopathic treatment, you should tell your osteopath.

Your osteopath may ask about any recent X-rays, scans or test results that you may have.

Depending on the area of your body requiring treatment, your osteopath may ask you to undress to your underwear. It’s important that you feel comfortable, so you may want to wear loose pants or bring a pair of shorts to change into.

Next, your osteopath will conduct a full osteopathic examination and if necessary, clinical tests. This may involve diagnostic, orthopaedic or neurological tests, postural assessments and activities or exercises, which will help determine how best to manage your condition.

The examination may include passive and active movements, such as the osteopath lifting your arms or legs. As part of the examination, you may also be asked to bend over or stand in your underwear. Be sure to wear comfortable, flexible and appropriate underwear.

As osteopathy takes a holistic approach to treatment, your practitioner may look at other parts of your body, as well as the area that is troubling you. For example, if you have a sore knee, your osteopath may also look at your ankle, pelvis and back.

Your osteopath may also provide education and advice to help you manage your condition between treatments. This may include giving you exercises to do at home or work.

Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy, so hands-on treatment may include massage, stretching, repetitive movements, mobilisation and/or manipulation. Most osteopathic treatment is gentle and should not cause undue discomfort. If your injuries do require hands-on treatment of painful and tender areas, your osteopath will exercise care to make you as comfortable as possible.

Some people experience mild soreness for a day or two after treatment, similar to that felt after mild exercise. If this soreness persists or increases significantly, call your osteopath to discuss your concerns.

Your initial consultation may last up to one hour. This will enable your osteopath to take a thorough history, examine and treat you. Follow-up treatments are usually shorter. Depending on your condition, they can take 30-40 minutes.

Generally you would expect to see some changes in your symptoms after one or two visits; however, some long-term or chronic conditions may require a longer course or more frequent treatment. If you have any concerns, your osteopath will be happy to discuss these with you.

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