Weighing the potential effectiveness of various treatments for sleep bruxism

J Can Dent Assoc. 2007 Oct;73(8):727-30.


Sleep bruxism may lead to a variety of problems, but its pathophysiology has not been completely elucidated. As such, there is no definitive treatment, but certain preventive measures and/or drugs may be used in acute cases, particularly those involving pain. This article is intended to guide clinician scientists to the treatment most appropriate for future clinical studies. To determine the best current treatment, 2 measures were used to compare the results of 10 clinical studies on sleep bruxism, 3 involving oral devices and 7 involving pharmacologic therapy. The first measure, the number needed to treat (NNT), allows several randomized clinical studies to be compared and a general conclusion to be drawn. The second measure, effect size, allows evaluation of the impact of treatment relative to a placebo using different studies of similar design. Taking into account the NNT, the effect size and the power of each study, it can be concluded that the following treatments reduce sleep bruxism: mandibular advancement device, clonidine and occlusal splint. However, the first 2 of these have been linked to adverse effects. The occlusal splint is therefore the treatment of choice, as it reduces grinding noise and protects the teeth from premature wear with no reported adverse effects. The NNT could not be calculated for an alternative pharmacologic treatment, short-term clonazepam therapy, which had a large effect size and reduced the average bruxism index. However, the risk of dependency limits its use over long periods. Assessment of efficacy and safety of the most promising treatments will require studies with larger sample sizes over longer periods.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Clonazepam / therapeutic use
  • Clonidine / therapeutic use
  • GABA Modulators / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Mandibular Advancement
  • Occlusal Splints*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sleep Bruxism / therapy*
  • Sympatholytics / therapeutic use


  • GABA Modulators
  • Sympatholytics
  • Clonazepam
  • Clonidine