Sleep bruxism and perceived stress: assessment using salivary cortisol levels, a biomarker of stress

Salivary cortisol level and sleep bruxism




Jaw muscle hyperactivity, Perceived stress, Salivary cortisol, Sleep bruxism, Stress biomarker, Teeth grinding


Sleep bruxism (SB) corresponds to physiologically based manducatory muscle reactions, with no identifiable neuropathic cause, in relation to anxiety disorders, respiratory disorders or behavioral "tocs". The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between SB and perceived stress by measuring salivary cortisol levels. The study included 61 consenting adult participants: 31 for the study group (bruxers) and 30 for the control group (no bruxers). The diagnosis of BS was made using a standard bruxism assessment questionnaire defined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). The preliminary diagnosis was confirmed by clinical assessment according to AASM criteria. The BRUXi index, a tool proposed by Orthlieb, was used to determine the intensity of bruxism. Perceived stress was measured using the Perceived Stress Scale questionnaire. Unstimulated whole saliva was collected and morning salivary cortisol levels were determined by ELISA. Non-parametric statistical methods were used to analyze the data. The bruxers (study group) had significantly high levels of mean salivary cortisol (12.3±4.2 ng/mL or 34.5±14.6 nmol/L) than the non-bruxers (control group) (5.3±1.2 ng/mL or 14.5±4.6 nmol/L) (p<0.001). The elevated salivary cortisol level was positively associated with perceived stress and SB (p<0.0001) in the study group. These results suggest that bruxing activity is associated with higher levels of perceived psychological stress and salivary cortisol. Despite the absence of polysomnographic recording for the diagnosis of SB, a positive correlation between SB and salivary cortisol levels was observed in bruxers.


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Author Biographies

Prof. Papa Abdou Lecor, Cheikh Anta Diop University

Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy, Odontology and Stomatology; Institute of Odontology and Stomatology; Professor, Department of Physiology

Seynabou Dieng , Cheikh Anta Diop University

Department of Physiology, Institute of Odonto-stomatology

Sankoung Soumboundou, Cheikh Anta Diop University

Department of Legal Odontology, Institute of Odonto-stomatology

Arame Seck, Cheikh Anta Diop University

Department of Physiology, Institute of Odonto-stomatology

O. H. Sall, Cheikh Anta Diop University

Department of Physiology, Institute of Odonto-stomatology

Mamadou Lamine Guirassy, Cheikh Anta Diop University

Department of Periodontology, Institute of Odonto-stomatology


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Lecor PA, Dieng S, Soumboundou S, Seck A, Sall OH, Guirassy ML. Sleep bruxism and perceived stress: assessment using salivary cortisol levels, a biomarker of stress: Salivary cortisol level and sleep bruxism. Ann Med Physiol [Internet]. 2023Dec.31 [cited 2024Jul.18];7(2):8-14. Available from:



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