Sleep less and bite more: sleep disorders associated with occlusal loads during sleep

J Prosthodont Res. 2013 Apr;57(2):69-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jpor.2013.03.001. Epub 2013 Apr 17.


Occlusal overload during sleep is a significant clinical issue that has negative impacts on the maintenance of teeth and the longevity of dental prostheses. Sleep is usually viewed as an 'out-of-functional' mode for masticatory muscles. However, orodental structures and prostheses are not free from occlusal loads during sleep since masticatory muscles can be activated at a low level within normal sleep continuity. Thus, an increase in masticatory muscle contractions, by whatever the cause, can be associated with a risk of increased occlusal loads during sleep. Among such conditions, sleep bruxism (SB) is a type of sleep-related movement disorders with potential load challenge to the tooth and orofacial structures. Patients with SB usually report frequent tooth grinding noises during sleep and there is a consecutive increase in number and strength of rhythmic masticatory muscle activity (RMMA). Other types of masticatory muscle contractions can be non-specifically activated during sleep, such as brief contractions with tooth tapping, sleep talking, non-rhythmic contractions related to non-specific body movements, etc.; these occur more frequently in sleep disorders. Studies have shown that clinical signs and symptoms of SB can be found in patients with sleep disorders. In addition, sleep becomes compromised with aging process, and a prevalence of most sleep disorders is high in the elderly populations, in which prosthodontic rehabilitations are more required. Therefore, the recognition and understanding of the role of sleep disorders can provide a comprehensive vision for prosthodontic rehabilitations when prosthodontists manage complex orodental cases needing interdisciplinary collaborations between dentistry and sleep medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bite Force*
  • Humans
  • Masticatory Muscles / physiopathology
  • Sleep Bruxism / complications
  • Sleep Bruxism / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology*