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Papers: 15 Jun 2024 - 21 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 18



Bruxism, temporomandibular disorders, and headache-a narrative review of correlations and causalities.


Voß LC, Basedau H, Svensson P, May A


The co-occurrence of bruxism, temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), and headache is common in patients. However, there is conflicting evidence regarding whether this association is simply a result of their high prevalence or whether there are indeed causal relationships. This review provides an overview of the current state of research while taking into account the controversies surrounding research methods, particularly in definitions and diagnostic standards. Bruxism-defined as repetitive jaw muscle activity during sleep or wakefulness-is not a painful disorder but may-particularly in co-occurrence with TMD-worsen pre-existing headache. It seems important to differentiate between sleep and awake bruxism because of different impact on pathophysiological processes in different primary headache disorders such as migraine and tension-type headache. Temporomandibular disorder is a heterogenous entity with both myofascial and arthrogenous types of pain in addition to nonpainful disorders. Research suggests a correlation between TMD pain and migraine, as well as between awake bruxism and tension-type headache. However, psychosocial factors may act as confounders in these relationships. Determining causality is challenging because of the limited number of experimental and clinical studies conducted on this topic. The main finding is an apparent lack of consensus on the definition and assessment criteria for bruxism. Treatment wise, it is important to differentiate all 3 conditions because treatment of one condition may have an effect on the other 2 without proving causality. For future research, it is crucial to establish greater consistency and applicability in diagnostic procedures and definitions. In addition, more experimental and clinical studies investigating the question of causality are needed.