Teenagers suffering from from sleep bruxism could be being subjected to bullying, a new study has found.
The study, published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, found that teenagers experiencing verbal bullying in school were four times as likely to suffer from sleep bruxism (65%) compared to those who were not (17%).
These findings have led the Oral Health Foundation to urge parents, schools and dental professionals to keep an eye out for early symptoms related to bruxism.
‘Bullying of any form is absolutely abhorrent and can have a both physical and psychological impact, and when experienced in childhood, can lead to trauma that might last throughout adulthood,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said.
‘Grinding teeth may not sound like a priority within the wider picture but it could prove to give a vital insight into a child’s state of mind and could be an important sign for us to identify bullying at an earlier stage.
‘Both children and adults tend to grind their teeth when suffering from stress, and bullying is a significant contributor here.
‘Sleep bruxism can be particularly damaging as we are often unaware that we do it.
‘A dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up is the first tell-tale symptom of sleep bruxism and I urge parents, carers and schools to alert to children complaining of this regularly so they may be able to identify cases of bullying and address it.’
It is estimated that sleep bruxism affects more than six million people in the UK (according to the www.nhs.uk/conditions/teeth-grinding/Pages/Introduction.aspx), but many are entirely unaware of it.
Its effects can reach further than the wearing down of teeth too, with recent research showing it can cause dental implant complications.
‘If you feel that you have any of these symptoms and may be suffering from sleep bruxism I urge you to visit your dentist who can assess you,’ Nigel advised.
‘They may choose to fit you with a custom dental appliance which will stop your teeth grinding together in a stressed manner.
‘Suffers can explore a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to get to the source of the problem.
‘Making lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and managing stress can also help alleviate the problem.’