Teeth-grinding in teenagers during sleep could be a sign that they are being bullied at school, a study suggests. The study by an oral health charity in the UK found that adolescents who suffer from bullying are far more likely to grind their teeth in their sleep, a sign which could help parents identify victimised children sooner.
The research, published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, found that teenagers who were subjected to verbal bullying in school were almost four times as likely to suffer from sleep bruxism (65 per cent) compared to those who were not (17 per cent). Sleep bruxism is when you grind your teeth in your sleep and over time can lead to major oral health problems, including migraines, sensitive and worn teeth, chipped or cracked teeth, loosing of teeth and severe oral pain and can lead to irreparable damage. The researchers urge parents, carers and schools to be alert to students complaining of oral health problems and symptoms related to bruxism as a signifier of them being bullied so that they help can tackle to issue.
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“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,” said Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, which carried the study. “Grinding teeth may not sound like 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,” said Carter.
“Both children and adults tend to grind their teeth when suffering from stress, and bullying is a significant contributor here,” he said. Sleep bruxism can be particularly damaging. Many times, we learn that we grind our teeth by a loved one who hears the grinding at night, researchers said.