Teeth-grinders may have trouble in preschool

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health), Jun 10 - Preschool-age children who grind their teeth are more likely to have problems in preschool and to be withdrawn, according to research presented Tuesday at SLEEP 2008, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Salvatory P. Insana of West Virginia University in Morgantown and colleagues asked the low-income parents of 1,956 preschoolers if and how often their 4-year-olds grind their teeth while asleep.

Roughly 38% of the preschoolers were reported to grind their teeth one or more times per week, and nearly 7% reported this behavior four or more times per week.

"The prevalence of tooth grinding within the population that we studied -- financially disadvantaged preschool children enrolled in the early Jump Start Program in Louisville, Kentucky -- was very high (36.8%)," Insana said. "Studies show that typically around 20% of children younger than 11 years old grind their teeth at night," the researcher noted.

As the frequency of tooth grinding during sleep increased, parents were also more likely to report that their child is withdrawn or that they don't get involved with others and that preschool adjustment was poor

"We can't assume that tooth grinding causes withdrawn behavior or problems in school, but there is some kind of dynamic relation between tooth grinding and preschool adjustment," Insana said.

Tooth grinding, Insana also noted, is not something to ignore, as it can "lead to temporomandibular joint pain and frequent arousals during sleep, and nighttime arousals lead to sleep fragmentation and there is a plethora of research that deleterious effects of sleep fragmentation on functioning and health."

Last Updated: 2008-06-10 11:20:36 -0400 (Reuters Health)

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