A. Grinding at night is called nocturnal bruxism. It is not uncommon in children. The cause of grinding is poorly understood. We do know that in both children and adults grinding and or clenching of the teeth and the associated muscles can be stress-related.
That kind of stress can be emotional or physical. In fact, anything that stresses a child, whether it’s an earache, an intestinal infection or even a tooth eruption, can be manifested in nocturnal grinding.
I turned to my dental colleague Dr. Mindy Cash, in the Department or Oral Radiology at the University of Toronto. She reminded me that grinding often goes undetected until its effects are seen by the dentist or physician. In very young children grinding is often reported with the eruption and early contact of the opposing upper and lower teeth. It often disappears on its own, without need for any treatment. In more severe cases, where the condition lasts for long periods of time, it can result in both muscular and tooth-related changes. In these situations, intervention may become necessary.
You ask whether or not this could be a symptom of worms and whether or not you should be giving worm medicine. While the answer is likely not, the correlation has been proposed between the presence of intestinal parasites and the symptom of bruxism. To put closure on this, Dr. Cash searched the dental literature for ParentsCanada.
A study conducted by Diaz-Serrano et al was published in The Journal of Dentistry for Children in September of 2008. It found no relationship between the symptom of nocturnal bruxism and intestinal parasitic infections in children.
If you are concerned about teeth grinding or you are seeing symptoms such as tooth sensitivity, broken restorations, headaches, earache, or tooth or jaw pain, then consultation with a medical or dental practitioner would be advised.
Published in May, 2011.