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Volume 36 , Issue 1
Winter 2022

Pages 2635

Impact of Stress and Trait Anxiety on the Sensory and Jaw Motor Responses to a Tonic Orofacial Nociceptive Stimulus

Jeffrey C. F. Chow, DDS, MSc/Paolo Chiodini, PhD/Ambra Michelotti, DDS, PhD/Richard Ohrbach, DDS, PhD/Iacopo Cioffi, DDS, PhD

DOI: 10.11607/ofph.3048

Aims: To investigate how trait anxiety and stress jointly affect the sensory and jaw motor responses to a tonic orofacial nociceptive stimulus. Methods: Orthodontic separators were placed between the first molars in 45 adults with low (n = 14), intermediate (n = 17), and high (n = 14) trait anxiety. Tooth pain, occlusal discomfort, tooth clenching (as a jaw motor behavior), and situational stress were measured three times a day for 5 days using visual analog scales. Mixed-effects regression models were used to evaluate the sensory and motor outcome measures. Results: Pain, discomfort, and frequency of tooth-clenching trajectories were affected by trait anxiety (P = .007, P < .001, and P = .055, respectively) and stress (P < .001, P < .001, and P = .044, respectively). Individuals with high anxiety reported their highest pain (17.7 2.9 mm) and discomfort (35.2 4.1 mm) 24 hours earlier than those with low anxiety (pain: 15.9 2.6 mm, discomfort: 28.8 3.7 mm). Tooth clenching decreased progressively in response to the stimulus (P < .001). Conclusion: A tonic orofacial nociceptive stimulus triggers an avoidance jaw motor behavior. Both trait anxiety and situational stress heighten the sensory response to such a stimulus, but weakly affect the motor response to it.

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