Revisited relationships between probable sleep bruxism and clinical muscle symptoms

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Objectives: Sleep bruxism (SB), characterized by repetitive jaw-muscle activity during sleep, is often suggested as a cause of temporomandibular disorders (TMD), orofacial pain, and headache. This study aimed to challenge the relationship between jaw-muscle electromyographic (EMG) activity during sleep and jaw muscle symptoms including pain by modulation of the levels of EMG activity. Contingent electrical stimulation (CES) using a portable single-channel EMG device was applied at different stimulus intensities to inhibit jaw muscle activity. Materials and methods: Sixty probable sleep-bruxers, screened and confirmed by a 2-week use of a portable EMG device, were randomly allocated into one of 3 groups (High/Low/Placebo CES). At baseline and after 2 weeks CES intervention, the participants were asked to score pain intensity, as well as unpleasantness, fatigue, tension, soreness and stiffness in their jaw muscles, on 0–10 numerical rating scales (NRS). Results: Only in the High CES group, the number of EMG events/hour was significantly decreased (P = 0.024). Although the NRS scores of pain did not change, interestingly the NRS scores of unpleasantness (P = 0.037), tension (P < 0.001) and soreness (P = 0.004) in the High CES group and tiredness (P = 0.002) and soreness (P = 0.006) in the Low CES group were significantly decreased after the CES intervention compared to baseline. Conclusion: High intensity CES demonstrated inhibitory effect on masticatory muscle EMG activity during sleep and was associated with significant decreases in jaw muscle symptoms (unpleasantness/tiredness/soreness) but not pain responses. These findings challenge the traditional concept that probable sleep bruxism is directly related to pain but appears related to more unspecific muscle symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dentistry
Pages (from-to)85-90
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • Bruxism, Contingent electrical stimulation, Electromyography, Mechanical muscle sensitivity, Pain

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