Swedish dental journal. Supplement

Experimental tooth clenching. A model for studying mechanisms of muscle pain.

PMID 23631112


The overall goal of this thesis was to broaden knowledge of pain mechanisms in myofascial temporomandibular disorders (M-TMD). The specific aims were to: Develop a quality assessment tool for experimental bruxism studies (study I). Investigate proprioceptive allodynia after experimental tooth clenching exercises (study II). Evaluate the release of serotonin (5-HT), glutamate, pyruvate, and lactate in healthy subjects (study III) and in patients with M-TMD (study IV), after experimental tooth clenching exercises. In (I), tool development comprised 5 steps: (i) preliminary decisions, (ii) item generation, (iii) face-validity assessment, (iv) reliability and discriminative validity testing, and (v) instrument refinement. After preliminary decisions and a literature review, a list of 52 items to be considered for inclusion in the tool was generated. Eleven experts were invited to participate on the Delphi panel, of which 10 agreed. After four Delphi rounds, 8 items remained and were included in the Quality Assessment Tool for Experimental Bruxism Studies (Qu-ATEBS). Inter-observer reliability was acceptable (k = 0.77), and discriminative validity high (phi coefficient 0.79; P < 0.01). During refinement, 1 item was removed; the final tool comprised 7 items. In (II), 16 healthy females participated in three 60-min sessions, each with 24- and 48-h follow-ups. Participants were randomly assigned to a repetitive experimental tooth clenching task with a clenching level of 10%, 20%, or 40% of maximal voluntary clenching force (MVCF). Pain intensity, fatigue, perceived intensity of vibration (PIV), perceived discomfort (PD), and pressure pain threshold (PPT) were measured throughout. A significant increase in pain intensity and fatigue but not in PD was observed over time. A significant increase in PIV was only observed at 40 min, and PPT decreased significantly over time at 50 and 60 min compared to baseline. In (III), 30 healthy subjects (16 females, and 14 males) participated in two sessions at a minimum interval of 1 wk. Microdialysis was done to collect 5-HT, glutamate, pyruvate, and lactate and to measure masseter muscle blood flow. Two hours after the start of microdialysis, participants were randomized to a 20-min repetitive experimental tooth clenching task (50% of MVCF) or a control session (no clenching). Pain intensity was measured throughout the experiment. Substance levels and blood flow were unaltered at all time points between sessions, and between genders in each session. Pain intensity was significantly higher after clenching in the clenching session compared to the same time point in the control session. In (IV), 15 patients with M-TMD and 15 healthy controls participated in one session and the methodology described above was used. M-TMD patients had significantly higher levels of 5-HT and significantly lower blood flows than healthy controls. No significant differences for any substance at any time point were observed between groups. Time and group had significant main effects on pain intensity. Qu-ATEBS, the 7-item evidence-based quality assessment tool, is reliable, exhibits face-validity, and has excellent discriminative validity. Tooth clenching was associated with pain, fatigue, and short-lasting mechanical hyperalgesia, but not with proprioceptive allodynia. It seems that tooth clenching is not directly related to delayed onset muscle soreness. In healthy subjects and in patients with M-TMD, levels of 5-HT, glutamate, pyruvate, and lactate were unaltered after tooth clenching. But 5-HT levels were significantly higher and blood flows significantly lower in M-TMD patients than in healthy controls at all time points. These two factors may facilitate the release, and enhance the effects, of other algesic substances that may cause pain.