Clenching and grinding: Effect on masseter and sternocleidomastoid electromyographic activity in healthy subjects

Macarena Venegas, José Valdivia*, María Javiera Fresno, Rodolfo Miralles, Mario Felipe Gutiérrez, Saúl Valenzuela, Aler Fuentes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study compares the effect of clenching and grinding on masseter and sternocleidomastoid electromyographic (EMG) activity during different jaw posture tasks in the sagittal plane. The study included 34 healthy subjects with natural dentition, Class I bilateral molar Angle relationship, and absence of posterior occlusal contacts during mandibular protrusion. An inclusion criterion was that subjects had to be free of signs and symptoms of any dysfunction of the masticatory system. Bipolar surface electrodes were located on the right masseter and sternocleidomastoid muscles. EMG activity was recorded while the subjects were in standing position, during the following jaw posture tasks: A. maximal clenching in the intercuspal position; B. grinding from intercuspal position to edge-to-edge protrusive contact position; C. maximal clenching in the edge-to-edge protrusive contact position; D. grinding from edge-to-edge protrusive contact position to intercuspal position; E. grinding from retrusive contact position to intercuspal position. EMG activities in tasks B, C, D, and E were significantly lower than in task A in both muscles (mixed model with unstructured covariance matrix). EMG activity among tasks B, C, D, and E did not show significant differences in both muscles, except between tasks D and E in the masseter muscle. A higher effect was observed on the masseter than on the sternocleidomastoid muscle to avoid excessive muscular activity during clenching and grinding. The EMG patterns observed could be of clinical importance in the presence of parafunctional habits, i.e., clenching and/or grinding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-166
Number of pages8
JournalCranio - Journal of Craniomandibular Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Laterotrusive occlusal schemes
  • Masticatory muscles
  • Emg activity
  • Jaw posture
  • Contacts
  • Temporalis
  • Position
  • Reflex


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