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Protecting All Children's Teeth (PACT): A Pediatric Oral Health Training Program
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Bruxism: The habit of unconsciously gritting or grinding the teeth especially in situations of stress or during sleep.

Bruxism is defined as habitual grinding of the teeth. It most often occurs at night but can occur when awake or asleep.

The etiology of bruxism includes habit, emotional stress (response to anxiety, tension, anger, or pain), parasomnias, neurologic abnormalities, tooth malocclusion, and, rarely, a medication side-effect.

Malocclusion: An abnormality in the coming together of teeth.

Often, the etiology of bruxism is unknown.

Bruxism can result in enamel wearing of the front and back teeth.

If severe, it can result in tooth sensitivity or root exposure, which requires treatment.

Bruxism may also contribute to temporomandibular joint disorder and headaches.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder: A group of symptoms that may include pain or tenderness in the temporomandibular joint or surrounding muscles, headache, earache, neck, back, or shoulder pain, limited jaw movement, or a clicking or popping sound in the jaw and that are caused either by dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (as derangement of the articular disk) or another problem (as spasm or tension of the masticatory muscles) affecting the region of the temporomandibular joint.

For children younger than 8 years, treatment is usually not required.

If the bruxism appears to be a stress response, stress management, behavioral therapy, or biofeedback may be effective.

For older children, a dentist may recommend a mouth guard be worn at night.

Fast Facts
Bruxism is the habitual grinding of teeth, usually during the night.
Juvenile bruxism usually does not persist into adulthood.
For severe or persistent bruxism, a mouth guard may be worn at night to protect teeth enamel.

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