Teeth Grinding Habits Or Bruxism In Children


Children have various habits conducted without consciousness, such as nail and cheek biting or sometimes teeth grinding. In medical terms, Bruxism has also known as teeth grinding. Bruxism in children often occurs without awareness, especially during stressful situations or intense concentration.

Bruxism can be stopped or modified once the child is constantly reminded resulting in awareness. On the other hand, a child cannot consciously stop teeth grinding while asleep. Parents and guardians should be aware of the child need to be brought to the doctor for medical assessment. The situation of bruxism in children should not be taken for granted.

Causes Of Bruxism In Children

  • Teeth grinding often occurs after a child develops their first teeth and again after they develop their permanent teeth. The habit usually stops after the adult teeth are fully formed. Teeth grinding can be classified as a sleep disorder.
  • It is a very common complaint of children with mouth breathing, adenotonsillar hypertrophy, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), dental occlusion, and psychological problems. It is also linked to craniomandibular disorders including headaches and temporomandibular joint discomfort. The consequences of teeth grinding in children are often manifested in behavioral problems.
  • Research has found that children with bruxism have a tendency towards anxiety, stress, and hyperactivity. It is also strongly associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). An interesting study found that behavioral problems and bruxism were linked to maternal depression.
  • The increased behavioral problems in children were significantly correlated with parents who reported psychological or physical complaints. Asthma and respiratory airway infections may also be factors in bruxism. Some medications, such as the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, may contribute to grinding habits. Also, a host of diseases among children has been linked to bruxism, such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and epilepsy.
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Deeper to Lighter Sleep

Bruxism in children is part of an arousal response, defined as a sudden change from deeper to lighter sleep or awakening. In young adults, more than 80% of sleep bruxism episodes take place during periods of sleep known as stages 1 and 2 non-Rapid-Eye-Movements (REM) sleep, and only 5% to 10% in the REM (deep) stages. Many of these episodes lead to a shift in the sleep stage, usually toward awakening. Bruxism is prevalent in children who snore or breathe through their mouths.

One theory suggests there is a relationship between sleep bruxism and upper airway obstruction, causing obstructive sleep apnoea in which the tongue and tissues at the back of the mouth fall backward and block the airway. Sleep apnoea can be dangerous. It can lead to episodes of awakening throughout the night to having difficulty in breathing, interrupting restful sleep and growth, and depriving the brain of adequate oxygen.

It appears to happen more often in children who sleep on their backs. An association has also been made between teeth grinding and enlarged tonsils, which in turn is strongly linked to upper airway obstruction. Removing the tonsils and adenoids has been shown to lessen teeth grinding in some children.