Aim: The aim of this study was to verify in bruxism patients the possible efficacy of auricular stimulation in reducing the hypertonicity of some masticatory muscles.
Methods: Forty-three bruxism patients were randomly allocated to 3 groups: acupuncture, needle contact for 10 seconds, no treatment (control). Helkimo's clinical dysfunction index (CDI) and anamnestic dysfunction index (ADI) were used to assess the functional state of the masticatory system. The resting electrical activity of the anterior temporalis (AT), masseter (MM), digastric (DA) and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles was measured, according to Jankelson, with surface electrodes at baseline, after stimulation and continually for 30 minutes (120 measurements in total). The electromyographical variations in the 3 groups were studied with t test for independent samples.
Results: Acupuncture and needle contact were superior to control in reducing the muscle hypertonicity of all muscles except SCM. In the comparison between acupuncture and needle contact the former showed better results only for the right TA and left DA (p = 0.000).
Conclusion: In this study it was possible to measure the efficacy of the stimulation of only one point or area, which is an ideal model for research in acupuncture. The auricular area we chose for stimulation was never used before for the purpose of relaxing masticatory muscles. Acupuncture and needle contact for 10 seconds showed similar effects.