Objectives: There is scarce knowledge regarding the influence of a natural mediotrusive contact on mandibular and cervical muscular activity. The purpose of this study was to analyze the EMG activity of the anterior temporalis (AT) and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles during awake grinding in healthy subjects with or without a natural mediotrusive occlusal contact. Method: Fifteen subjects with natural mediotrusive occlusal contact (Group 1) and 15 subjects without natural mediotrusive occlusal contact (Group 2) participated. Bilateral surface EMG activity of AT and SCM muscles was recorded during unilateral eccentric or concentric tooth grinding tasks. EMG activity was normalized against the activity recorded during maximal voluntary clenching in intercuspal position (IP) for AT muscles and during maximal intentional isometric head-neck rotation to each side, for SCM muscles. Results: EMG activity of AT and SCM muscles showed no statistical difference between groups. EMG activity of AT muscle was higher in the working side (WS) than in the non-WS (NWS) in Group 1 during concentric grinding (0.492 vs 0.331, p = 0.047), whereas no difference was observed in Group 2. EMG activity of SCM was similar between working and NWSs in both groups and tasks. Asymmetry indexes (AIs) were not significantly different between groups. Discussion: These findings in healthy subjects support the assumption that during awake tooth grinding, central nerve control predominates over peripheral inputs, and reinforce the idea of a functional link between the motor-neuron pools that control jaw and neck muscles.
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