Teeth grinding during sleep, termed nocturnal bruxism, is surprisingly very common in children. For example, Insana et al. (2013, Community based study of sleep bruxism during early childhood, Sleep Med., 14:183-188), in their study of children in Jefferson County, Kentucky, noted 36.8% of 1,953 preschoolers and 49.6% of 2,888 first grade children reported nocturnal teeth grinding one or more times per week.
Nocturnal teeth grinding in children may commence with the emergence of baby teeth and then later at the emergence of permanent teeth. Most children spontaneously stop nocturnal teeth grinding when their baby and permanent teeth have fully emerged, with nocturnal bruxism seldom occurring by the age of thirteen. Bouts of nocturnal bruxism last for about 4 seconds, occur about six times/hour, and may be accompanied by an awakening from sleep.
Most children eventually outgrow bruxism and dental treatment is not recommended unless there are immediate health issues. For example, intense teeth grinding of the upper jaw against the lower jaw may trigger dental concerns, such as:
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