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Occlusion is the area of dentistry responsible for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of occlusal problems, i.e. the relationship between the teeth of the upper and lower jaw and dysfunctions of the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ).

Bruxism is perhaps one of the most well-known and exemplary disorders of this type of dysfunction, consisting of teeth grinding, which has negative consequences for the patient’s oral and physical health.

What is meant by orofacial pain?

Orofacial pain is pain related to the soft and mineralized tissues, such as the skin, blood vessels, bones, teeth, glands and muscles of the oral cavity and face.

Among the problems that can cause this pain are: temporomandibular muscle or joint dysfunction, neuralgia, tumors, tissue trauma and autoimmune diseases.

This pain can be associated with different areas of the body, such as the head and neck, or with other pains, such as cervicalgia and primary headaches.

There are also cases in which this pain is related to other pathologies, such as fibromyalgia and rheumatic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, this pain should serve as a warning sign to consult a specialist who can diagnose the origin of this symptom.


Bruxism is characterized by repetitive muscle activity in the masticatory muscles, which can even occur during sleep and/or wakefulness.

This disorder can lead to the wear and fracture of teeth, restorations or even the need for dentures.

There are two types of bruxism: daytime and nighttime.

Daytime bruxism translates into habits such as nail or pencil biting, poor posture and other manifestations.

Nighttime bruxism refers to manifestations that occur during sleep, such as grinding teeth, having micro-awakenings and feeling increases in respiratory rate, heart rate and body movements.

The main symptom of bruxism is the wearing down of dental veneers, shortening of the teeth, muscle tension or migraine-type headaches, all of which are side effects of teeth grinding.

The latest research argues that bruxism originates in the central nervous system, which means that it is closely associated with problems such as anxiety and stress.

In addition to wearing protective appliances to prevent wear and tear on tooth enamel, it is important to “educate your brain” to avoid grinding your teeth.

In addition, some habits can be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety levels, such as practicing sports, improving posture, performing relaxation therapies and adopting other good lifestyle habits.

What treatment is indicated for Temporo-Mandibular Joint disorders?

As it can have various causes, treatment for this problem is also multidisciplinary and may require cumulative psychological, physiotherapy or neurological support.

In addition, therapy can include taking anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, oral splints, physiotherapy for the jaw muscles, massages, injections or even surgery.

How are these problems diagnosed?

To diagnose these problems, a medical examination consisting of palpation of the facial muscles and joints should be carried out. In addition, the movements of the jaw and oral cavity should be assessed.

In addition, diagnostic aids such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs can be used.

Frequently Asked Questions

Studies show that between 15% and 90% of people have suffered from bruxism.

Sleep bruxism has a prevalence of 8%, while waking bruxism has a prevalence of 20%. Among children, bruxism during sleep has a prevalence of over 25%.

The causes of these disorders can be anatomical, neuromuscular or psychological.

Most TMJ problems are due to overuse of the jaw muscles, wearing down the teeth and soft tissues and causing muscle pain and headaches.

These are acrylic appliances for the upper or lower jaw, which serve to relax the muscles and relieve pressure on the TMJ.

By wearing them, muscle and joint pain is relieved and the habit of grinding and clenching teeth is reduced.

Occlusion/ATM team

— Meet the team

Bruno Veloso

Gestor Projeto / Parcerias

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