Objective To provide an update on what is known about bruxism and some of the major clinical highlights derived from new insights into this old problem in dentistry. Materials and methods A selective, non-systematic but critical review of the available scientific literature was performed. Results There are two main different types of bruxism, which are related to different circadian periods (sleep and awake bruxism) that may differ in terms of pathophysiology, but they share some common signs and symptoms. Approximately one out of 10 adult individuals may suffer from bruxism, but not all bruxers may need treatment. Bruxism is complicated to diagnose in the clinic and self-report of bruxism may not necessarily reflect the true presence of jaw muscle activity. Better understanding has been acquired of bruxism relationships with sleep stages, arousal responses and autonomic function with the help of polysomnography and controlled sleep studies. Meanwhile, there is still much more to learn about awake bruxism. With the available scientific knowledge it is possible to systematically assess the effects of bruxism and its potential risk factors for oral and general health. Moreover, we can be aware of the realistic possibilities to manage/treat the patient suffering from bruxism. Conclusion Bruxism is a parafunctional activity involving the masticatory muscles and probably it is as old as human mankind. Different ways have been proposed to define, diagnose, assess the impact and consequences, understand the pathophysiology and treat or manage bruxism. Despite the vast research efforts made in this field, there are still significant gaps in our knowledge.
Keywords: Bruxism; jaw muscle activity; review.