Teeth grinding, also clinically known as bruxism, is the unintentional or intentional clenching or grinding of one’s teeth. If left untreated, it can damage enamel and lead to tooth breakage. It can also cause headaches, tense muscles, earaches, tooth sensitivity, facial and jaw pain.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
The causes of teeth grinding are unclear. In fact, there are several possible factors that are thought to contribute to teeth grinding. For example, it is possible that teeth grinding is the result of misaligned or crooked teeth or an abnormal bite. Some view teeth grinding as a reaction to anxiety and stress as well as certain types of medications – particularly antidepressants. In other cases, it is possible that people, especially children, grind their teeth out of sheer habit. If this is the case, consider giving your child an oral fidget.[what’s this?????] A recent study also showed a verbal reminder can also be effective in curbing this behaviour.
Is Teeth Grinding a Sign of Autism?
In short, teeth grinding can be a sign of autism in children. Children with autism will repeat various motor activities over and over again and one such example is the grinding of teeth. Children also might repeatedly bang their head, rock their body back and forth or spin around, to name only a few.
In individuals with autism, teeth grinding can be a form of stimming, which is a self-stimulatory behaviour that children do to provide a sense of calm and order to their lives in the event of stress or other difficult emotions. If you suspect your child may be grinding his or her teeth due to autism, an occupational therapist can work with your child by putting them on a “sensory diet.” In essence, this is a list of healthier replacement behaviours that children can do to calm themselves instead of grinding their teeth.
If you suspect your child has autism, it is, of course, important to contact your doctor and make the steps to get screened for autism. Studies show that diagnosing autism early results in greater outcomes and a brighter future for children.
If you or your child is suffering from teeth grinding, it is important to also make an appointment with your dental professional to diagnose the problem and offer treatment to prevent the problem from causing further damage to teeth.
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