Overuse of Social Media, Dependence on Smartphones Can lead to Gnashing of Teeth Israeli study Finds

Your incessant use of smartphones and social media may be hazardous to your teeth and be a pain in the … jaws.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University’s School of Dental Medicine who studied people who constantly want to be “in the know” and updated constantly so they can know what’s new at every moment are likely to be the anxious victims of excessive smartphone and social media use. A growing number of children, teens and adults are dependent on their smartphones and suffer from FOMO (the fear of missing out), leading to feelings of stress and anxiety.

A comprehensive study by the Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine at Tel Aviv University (TAU) revealed that the overuse of smartphones and social media may lead to fatigue and drowsiness during the day, teeth-grinding (bruxism is the scientific term) and pain in the jaw and mouth muscles. These symptoms are associated with substantial negative effects on both the individual and society — high risks of road accidents, chronic orofacial pain and irreversible damage to hard dental tissue structures are only some of those negative consequences, they wrote.

Prof. Ilana Eli (Tel Aviv University)

Conducted as part of Dr. Yitzhak Hochhauser’s dissertation, it was led by Dr. Alona Amudi-Perlman, Dr. Pessia Friedman-Rubin, Prof. Ilana Eli, and Prof. Ephraim Winocur. The study will soon be published in the journal Quintessence International under the title “The effect of smartphones on daytime sleepiness, temporomandibular disorders, and bruxism among young adults.”

Friedman-Rubin and Eli said that the team compared different groups (from a total of about 600 participants) — secular Israeli (smartphone users) and a group of ultra-Orthodox (haredi) Jews aged 18 to 35 (most of whom use a “kosher” phone without an Internet connection). Study respondents were asked to address a number of aspects that typify overuse of the phone, including feelings of stress and tension throughout the day, a tendency to wake up at night, a need to be available to the cellphone, teeth-grinding and jaw pain (temporomandibular disorders).

The findings of the study were clear. Fully 54% of secular smartphone users said have a moderate-to-high incidence of waking at night, compared with only 20% among the ultra-Orthodox. In addition, half of the secular respondents said they felt a moderate-to-high level of stress due to the smartphone, compared to only 22% among the ultra-Orthodox.

The differences between the groups are also reflected in the question of how available they feel they need to be to their mobile devices – 45% of the secular respondents admitted that they had a moderate-to-high need to be available to their phones, compared to only 20% in the haredi group.

Independent dental experts, however, point out that there are other causes of bruxism, including sleep apnea – a sleep disorder in which pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep occur more often than normal. Each pause can last for a few seconds to a few minutes and they happen multiple times during sleep. In the most common form, this follows loud snoring and also causes drowsiness during the day.


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