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Bruxism in Military Pilots and Non-Pilots: Tooth Wear and Psychological Stress

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Lurie O, Zadik Y, Einy S, Tarrasch R, Raviv G, Goldstein L. Bruxism in military pilots and non-pilots: tooth wear and psychological stress. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:137–139.

Background: Bruxism is the diurnal or nocturnal para-functional habit of clenching or grinding the teeth and affects 5–10% of the general western population. Bruxism can cause pain and irreversible damage to the teeth, periodontium, masticatory muscles, and temporo-mandibular joint. Variables such as general stress, work-related stress, and personality traits have been increasingly considered as initiating, predisposing, and perpetuating factors for bruxism. We sought to evaluate the potential of work-related stress and personality factors to induce bruxism among military pilots and non-pilot officers. Methods: Subjects were 57 healthy male Israel Air Force officers (mean age 25.8 ± 4.3 yr). Of these, 17 were jet-pilots, 18 helicopter-pilots, and 22 non-pilot officers. Tooth-wear was classified according to a six-point scale. In addition, the subjects responded to a battery of psychological questionnaires for self-assessment of stress at the workplace and their coping behavior. Results: Bruxism of clinical importance (i.e., with dentin exposure) was found in 69% of the aircrew members but only 27% of the non-pilot group. No difference was found between groups regarding stress levels. Discussion: Military aircrews may be relatively vulnerable to deleterious bruxism as well as other signs of chronic stress. Among bruxers, pilots tended to show coping strategies that were significantly more emotional and less task-oriented than non-pilots, whereas non-bruxers showed no significant differences in coping behavior. This study suggest that integrating dental and psychological preventive intervention may be helpful.
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Keywords: aviation dentistry; dentin exposure; dentistry; flight dentistry; personality traits; sleep disorder; temporomandibular joint; work environment

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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