10) Massed Negative Practice

Massed negative practice is a behavioral therapy technique which has been frequently used for the treatment of children with tic disorder. As referred to in the bruxism literature, massed negative practice refers to a self-practiced technique where you repetitively voluntarily clench your jaw for five seconds and then relax the jaw for five seconds, repeating this exercise five times. The original “study” which showed great results with massed negative practice was done on a single person. No controls, no other people in the “study”, just one single participant (if you are a scientist, just reading that someone considers this a study might be enough to induce bruxism). Subsequent studies with more people showed this method had no benefit on the average, and that this method can have negative consequences (in that some people’s bruxism increases when they use this technique). This makes sense, since it is not clear whether this method is a pattern interrupt or a pattern reinforcement. Use of this technique seems to be decreasing.

On the positive side, at least this technique costs nothing to try, and there is little harm in trying this technique as long as you monitor your results and discontinue the technique if you turn out to be one of the people for whom this technique increases bruxism rather than decreasing it.

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