Childhood bullying has been a serious topic making headlines in the last few years. It has been linked to serious negative outcomes in adulthood and even childhood suicide.
The Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Education define bullying as unwanted aggressive behavior, observed or perceived power imbalance and repetition of behaviors or high likelihood of repetition.
According to Stopbullying.gov, one in four schoolchildren in the United States report having been bullied at school. The biggest problem is that only 20 to 30 percent of those who have experienced bullying report it to parents or caregivers.
Nighttime Teeth Grinding Could Be Sign of Bullying in Teens
New research published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation shows that teenagers who were being bullied in school were four times more likely to suffer from nighttime teeth grinding, sometimes referred as sleep bruxism.
With the release of this new information, the Oral Health Foundation has urged parents and caregivers to be aware of their children’s sleep habits and any possible symptoms of bruxism in order to help tackle one of the biggest issues in recent years among school-aged children.
One study published in the Journal of Dentistry for Children analyzed 854 surveys and determined that 38 percent of the parents reported their children clenched or ground their teeth. They also discovered that a child with a psychological disorder was 3.6 times more at risk for bruxism.
One of the major causes of teeth grinding is stress, said Dr. John Pappas of Arcadia Dental Arts in Phoenix, Arizona.
“Stress-related teeth grinding is common in both adults and children, and it’s especially troubling because often times the patient isn’t aware they’re doing it,” he said. “Most people only become aware after a partner or friend notices.”
Daytime Symptoms of Sleep Bruxism
Bruxism is not always noticed right away when it occurs during sleep, especially among the adolescent age ranges, because they often have different sleep schedules from their families and sleep alone. Thankfully, some signs of sleep bruxism can be observed during the daytime.
“Upon waking, those who are grinding or clenching their teeth at night often experience a dull, constant headache,” said Pappas. “A stiff sore jaw is also incredibly common.”
Bruxism can also cause pain or soreness in the neck and shoulders. The facial muscles often become fatigued, which is usually most noticeable in the morning after waking up. One of the most surprising symptoms is ear pain.
“The jaw connects to the skull at the temporomandibular joints, which are located just in front of each ear,” Pappas said. “You can feel the TMJ by placing your hands on each side of your face in front of your ears and opening and closing your mouth.”
Grinding the teeth or clenching the jaws causes fatigue and often inflammation of the TMJ, and because it’s so close to the ear it can cause pain and ringing in the ears.