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Diagnosing Sleep Bruxism

Sleep Bruxism
Young girl clenching her teeth

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Sleep Bruxism (SB) is a sleep related movement disorder characterized by maladaptive and repetitive grinding or clenching of the teeth. The central nervous system influences SB, affecting oral motor activity, the sleep-wake cycle. It can also be influenced by genetic and psychosocial factors. There is not much evidence related to sleep bruxism in children.

Diagnosing SB comes from the patient’s history and a physical exam. Here is some examples of patient history that relate to Sleep Bruxism to be aware of if you are bringing your child in for an exam:

  • Grinding or clenching
  • Morning facial pain/discomfort
  • Headache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Presence of a fracture or tooth reconstruction
  • Dental wear
  • Increased size or growth of the jaw muscle (masseter)
  • Joint sounds from TMJ

Diagnostic criteria for severe sleep bruxism include:

  • Tooth noise during sleep occurring at least 3-5 nights a week for 6 months
  • Dental wear
  • Exhaustion of the jaw-muscles in the morning
  • Increased size or growth of the jaw-muscles

Prevalence of SB in children varies. Bruxism is traditionally higher in children and decreases with age, but it is still important to combat SB early so that it does not develop into a more serious sleep disorder or inhibit important growth and development patterns in children.

For more information on sleep bruxism and treatment visit the websites below:

Airway & Sleep Group

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Reston, VA 20191

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