My child grinds teeth in her sleep. Is it because of intestinal worms?

Have you noticed your child grinding their teeth, especially while they sleep? Do you think they have intestinal worms? Read about bruxism right here!
Bruxism can also be common in children. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Published: 28 Jan 2022, 17:00 pm IST
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If you find your child grinding their teeth, you are likely to be concerned. After all, it may send your mind into a tizzy, making you believe that something is really wrong. Also called bruxism, it affects anywhere between 6 percent and 50 percent of children, as revealed by a review titled ‘Prevalence of sleep bruxism in children: a systematic review’, published in the National Library of Medicine.

Some believe that this is an involuntary response to stress and anxiety, while there are others who think it happens due to the presence of intestinal worms. But is the latter true?

Dr Rajiv Chhabra, Chief-Paediatric, Artemis Hospitals, Gurugram, reveals the truth to HealthShots. “Teeth grinding is absolutely normal and it’s a myth prevalent in the society that it’s because of worms. As a matter of fact, it’s not due to worms,” he adds.

Should you be worried?

Although intestinal worms may not be the cause, Dr Chhabra advises deworming the child every 6 months giving two doses of albendazole, two weeks apart. The symptoms of worm infestation are pain in the abdomen, itching over the perianal region, and anemia.

“The entrance of worms takes place through the fecal-oral route, which means they enter through the mouth by eating something, which is raw or rotten or unhygienic circumstances,” he adds.

Bruxism is not considered dangerous, but when a child constantly grinds his/her teeth, it can cause pain and damage to their teeth.

Bruxism in children
Bruxism can be due stress or anxiety in kids. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Understanding the causes of bruxism

1. Stress:

Certain studies suggest the link between stress and bruxism. As per a study titled ‘Influence of Maternal Psychological Traits on Sleep Bruxism’, those kids who are stressed often face this issue. In fact, the pressure to excel in everything from academics to extracurricular activities can sometimes be too much, and this could end up being their coping mechanism.

2. Anxiety:

There isn’t much evidence to prove a link between anxiety and grinding of teeth, but it is believed that those children who are restless are more likely to suffer from bruxism. You may not notice the symptoms at first, but certain signs are visible over a period of time. Their anxiety may manifest in the form of bruxism. It could also happen as a consequence of separation anxiety among children.

3. Sleep and mental health disorders:

Although stress and anxiety may be the larger causes, it could also happen due to certain mental health and sleep disorders. Those children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or have frequent migraines may be at risk. Sometimes, bruxism can also give rise to sleep disturbances.

4. Dental issues:

Bruxism or repetitive grinding of teeth could also happen because of children having misaligned teeth, or if they wear braces. Although as per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, there is not much evidence to establish that dental issues are linked with bruxism.

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Bruxism in children
Bruxism in children can be due to dental issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Can bruxism cause long-term health issues?

YES, bruxism can lead to children developing certain health issues. These are:

* Fractured teeth and gum issues
* Temporomandibular joint disorder
* Eating disorders
* Mental health disorders
* Sleep issues

If you observe your child facing any such issue, do not delay and consult a doctor! The right advice can help in a big way!

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About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

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