Background: Awake bruxism (AB) is an oral condition that has some uncertainties concerning the epidemiology, also due to the different diagnostic strategies that have been adopted to address it in the research setting. The recent new definition of AB suggests that an ecological momentary assessment (EMA), which enables real-time reporting of the condition under study, can implement knowledge on the topic. Objectives: This article will discuss the general principles of EMA and EMI (Ecological Momentary Intervention) and comment on a preliminary dataset gathered with a smartphone application in a population of Italian young adults. Materials and Methods: A dedicated smartphone application has been used (BruxApp®) on a sample of 30 University students (mean age 24 ± 3.5 years) to record real time report on five specific oral conditions (relaxed jaw muscles, tooth contact, teeth clenching, teeth grinding, mandible bracing) that are related with the spectrum of AB activities. Data were recorded over a 7-day period for two times, with a 1-month interval between the two observation periods. The purpose of collecting data over a second week, 1-month later, was to monitor AB behaviors over time, and test for potential "EMI" effects. Results: Over the first 7 days (T1), the average frequency of relaxed jaw muscles reports at the population level was 62%. Teeth contact (20%) and mandible bracing (14%) were the most frequent AB behaviors. No significant gender differences were detected. One month later, during the second week of data collection (T2), the frequency of the conditions was as follows: relaxed jaw muscles 74%, teeth contact 11% and mandible bracing 13%. Conclusions: These data recorded do not allow any generalization due the unrepresentativeness of the study population. On the other hand, they can be used as templates for future comparisons to get deeper into the study of natural fluctuations of AB behaviors as well as into the potential biofeedback effect of an ecological momentary assessment/intervention. It is important to recognize that the use of smartphone technology may help to set range of values for AB frequency in otherwise healthy individuals, in order to stand as comparisons for selected populations with risk or associated factors.
Keywords: awake bruxism; awake bruxism behaviors; bruxism; ecological momentary assessment; ecological momentary intervention; smartphone.