People with social phobia or anxiety are at increased risk of bruxism - teeth grinding which causes tooth wear and fractures as well as jaw pain, a new study has found.
Anxiety experienced in social circumstances elevates the risk of bruxism, the findings showed.
"Interaction with people seems to be necessary to trigger bruxism in socially anxious people," said lead researcher Ephraim Winocur from Tel Aviv University in Israel.
"By treating social anxiety, we will be able to treat bruxism as well," Winocur said.
Although antidepressant drugs have previously been linked to bruxism, this study found no such association.
The researchers assessed 75 men and women in their early 30s using questionnaires.
One group of 40 people had social phobia, characterized by excessive fear in social situations.
A control group of 35 did not have social phobia. All the participants underwent psychiatric and dental exams. Bruxism symptoms and oral habits, such as gum chewing, nail biting, and small jaw movements with no tooth contact ("jaw play"), were all assessed.
Moderate-to-severe dental wear was found in 42.1% of the social phobia participants and 28.6% of controls.
The rate of jaw play was 32.5% in the phobia group and 12.1% in controls. Symptoms of awake bruxism were reported by 42.5% of social phobia patients.
The study was published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation