Morning: bruxism, brucellosis

This morning’s names: two that are somewhat similar in sound (though they have nothing to do with one another), both referring to conditions affecting the body (but of very different sorts).

bruxism. From NOAD2:

the involuntary or habitual grinding of the teeth, typically during sleep. ORIGIN 1930s: from Greek brukhein ‘gnash the teeth’ + –ism

Lots of possible contributory causes have been suggested, but none lead to especially effective prevention or treatment regimens. But damage to the teeth can be largely averted by the use of a protective device designed to fit the individual user: what’s known as a (dental) mouth guard (or mouthguard). One illustrated here, with its storage case:


On mouth guards, from Wikipedia:

A mouthguard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, arches, lips and gums. A mouthguard is most often used to prevent injury in contact sports, as a treatment for bruxism or TMD [temporaromandibular disorder], or as part of certain dental procedures, such as tooth bleaching

A sports mouthguard being inserted by a boxer:


On the compound mouth guard: Well, yes, ‘a guard for the mouth’, but the semantics here is much more specific than that, as you can see from the beginning of the Wikipedia entry above. The general ‘a guard for the mouth’ would cover all sorts of things, like a person hired to guard mouths (say, especially valuable mouths, like those with precious stones embedded in their teeth).

brucellosis. Now, an actual disease. The short version, from NOAD2:

a bacterial disease typically affecting cattle and buffalo and causing undulant fever in humans. [This disease is caused by Gram-negative bacteria of the genus Brucella, in particular B. abortus.] ORIGIN 1930s: from modern Latin Brucella + -osis: named after Sir David Bruce (1855–1931), the Scottish physician who identified the bacterium.

(The material in square brackets is in the NOAD entry, and is in brackets there; it’s encyclopedic, rather than strictly lexicographic, information, but it’s potentially helpful to some users of the dictionary.)

Expanded information from Wikipedia:

Brucellosis, Bang’s disease, Crimean fever, Gibraltar fever, Malta fever, Maltese fever, Mediterranean fever, rock fever, or undulant fever [so-called because the fever comes in waves], is a highly contagious zoönosis caused by ingestion of unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat from infected animals or close contact with their secretions.

Brucella species are small, Gram-negative, nonmotile, nonspore-forming, rod-shaped (coccobacilli) bacteria. They function as facultative intracellular parasites, causing chronic disease, which usually persists for life. Four species infect humans: B. melitensis, B. abortus, B. suis, and B. canis.


… The symptoms are like those associated with many other febrile diseases, but with emphasis on muscular pain and sweating. The duration of the disease can vary from a few weeks to many months or even years.

… Wild bison and elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) are the last remaining reservoir of B. abortus in the US. [Otherwise, the disease has been eliminated – even on the island of Malta, once a major reservoir of the disease — by the administration of vaccines, strict precautions in handling the food supply, and the culling of affected animals]

… In 1897, Danish veterinarian Bernhard Bang isolated Brucella abortus as the agent; and the additional name “Bang’s disease” was assigned.

A nasty, nasty disease, once a serious threat to the dairy industry and the dairy products industries. (My dad’s college degree was in dairy husbandry and he worked in a series of dairy-related jobs for some years after college, so brucellosis was a recurrent topic in our household.)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: