[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 10-Jun-2008
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Contact: Kathleen McCann
kmccann@aasmnet.org
708-492-0930
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Children who grind their teeth are more likely to have problems in school, be withdrawn

WESTCHESTER, Ill. – Tooth grinding has an association with pre-school performance when withdrawn behavior is present, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Tuesday at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

The study focused on 1,956 pre-schoolers, whose low-income parents completed a questionnaire that included frequency of tooth grinding during sleep.

According to the results, 36.8 percent of pre-schoolers were reported to grind their teeth one or more times per week, and 6.7 percent reported this behavior four or more times per week. Further, as the frequency of children’s tooth grinding during sleep increased, parents were more likely to endorse that their child is withdrawn, doesn’t get involved with others, and that pre-school adjustment was worse.

“Although we can not assume that tooth grinding causes withdrawn behaviors or problems in school, the dynamic relation between tooth grinding and pre-school adjustment indicate that there may be clinical relevance to tooth grinding beyond being a symptom of bruxism,” said Salvatore P. Insana, of West Virginia University, first author of the study. “Furthermore, parental report of tooth grinding may be a sensitive indicator of the presence of bruxism among young children.”

Sleep-related bruxism involves the grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep. It is common for the jaw to contract while you sleep. When these contractions are too strong, they produce the sound of tooth grinding. This can cause dental damage by wearing the teeth down. In most severe cases, hundreds of events can occur during the night. In milder cases, the grinding may vary from night to night.

The rate of bruxism seems to be highest in children. About 14 to 17 percent of children have it. It can begin as soon as a child’s upper and lower teeth have come through the gums. Around one third of children with bruxism will still have it when they are adults.

It can also be caused by stress and anxiety. This may be due to a life event or pressure at school or work.

It is recommended that children in pre-school get between 11-13 hours of nightly sleep.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers some tips to help your child sleep better:

It is important to make sure that your child gets enough sleep and sleeps well. The value of sleep can be measured by your child’s smiling face, happy nature and natural energy. A tired child may have development or behavior problems. A child’s sleep problems can also cause unnecessary stress for you and the other members of your family.

Parents who suspect that their child might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their child’s pediatrician or a sleep specialist.

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More information about “children and sleep” is available from the AASM at http://www.SleepEducation.com/Topic.aspx?id=8 and “bruxism” at http://www.SleepEducation.com/Disorder.aspx?id=22.

The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.

More than 1,000 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The three-and-a-half-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

SleepEducation.com, a patient education Web site created by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.



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