Do you bite your nails? Beware, Bruxism is next!

Posted By: Varun Sharma

More and more studies are made to explain the new problems we are facing in life. Today, the average person works at least 40 hours a week, not counting the work that is done at home. Overworking is one of the primary causes of social anxiety, the other being the social separation. At the University of Tel Aviv, researchers have discovered that social anxiety can increase the risk of bruxism, jaw pain and tooth erosion.

In America, approximately one in six adults is suffering from at least one type of Anxiety Disorder (National Institute of Mental Health). The most frequent and well-known are panic disorder, PTST (post-traumatic stress disorder), social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

But what about stressed in social situations?

In some of the studies done at the Tel Aviv University, researchers found that the anxiety that is experienced in social circumstances increase the risk of bruxism. The research was led by Dr. avenue dental1Ephraim Winocur for the Department of Oral Rehabilitation in the TAU’s School of Dental Medicine alongside TAU doctoral student Roi Skopski and researchers from Geha Mental Health Center, Israel. The results of the origin of bruxism pointed to social anxiety as the trigger.

Bruxism is a condition where the person grinds the teeth during the day and/or night, causing tooth wear and fractures. Most often, one of the symptoms associated with bruxism is jaw pain and headaches.

“Though social anxiety is not a dental problem, the mouth will suffer as a consequence” announced Dr. Winocur. “Now that we are aware of this, we can take it into consideration. We are now able to identify patients that are predisposed to bruxism, and we can prevent it. Dental experts can act immediately and treat any problems that bruxism has caused.”

The study was made on 75 women and men in their early 30s. From this 40 people were suffering from a phobia, which is characterized by excessive fear in social situations. A little under a half of them were on antidepressant drugs – a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  The other 35 were a control group and were not having any social phobia. All the subjects did a psychiatric and a dental exam. All the oral habits, such as nail-biting, gum chewing, and small jaw movement, and bruxism symptoms were assessed.

The results showed that although antidepressant drugs were previously linked to bruxism, this study showed no association. But 42.1% of the social phobia subjects had a moderate to severe dental wear and 28.6% in the control group. The rate of jaw play was around 32.6% in the phobia group, and controls had 12.1%. The stunning result came from the awake bruxism report, where 42.5% of social phobia patients and only 3% from the control group were suffering from this condition.

If you suffer from social anxiety, it is recommended to do a dentist visit. Tell him about the condition you are suffering from. This way he can search for bruxism signs and tooth wear. He can also give you advice on your problem and also tell you what you can do to ameliorate the bruxism symptoms and pains.