Excessive clenching of the teeth due to physical or psychological tension or stress can result in excessive air swallowing.This study sought to investigate and evaluate the characteristics of such patients in terms of both their physical condition in the head and neck region and relevant psychological and social factors.
The subjects consisted of 187 patients (57males and130females) having chief complaints of aerophagia symptoms who visited the psychosomatic medicine clinic at the head and neck department of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University.52.4%were in their twenties and thirties and 69.5%were female.
The principal psychological and social stress factors tended to be study and work related among younger patients, and family problems among female patients.Most of the patients exhibited depression, anxiety, neurosis and a tendency towards autonomic imbalance, and also tended to complain of neck or shoulder pain, headache, oral or pharynx paresthesia and symptoms of quasi-temporomandibular arthrosis in the head and neck region.
The degree of improvement of aerophagia symptoms and a tendency to change doctors too frequently in order to find more appropriate treatment were both considered to be related to depression.
The explanation of habitual teeth clenching, the existence of psychological and social stress factors, the mechanism of air swallowing, and ways to control clenching was useful in helping patients to reduce their aerophagia symptoms.