Grinding teeth during the sleep or “Nocturnal bruxism” is a sign of the upper airway obstruction and specifically called as Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB), one of forms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Syndrome, which is common problem affecting the general health of children.
Dental signs of SDB are extreme wear of the dentition as a result of the night time grinding, evidence of cheek biting, retrognathism (overbite), narrow dental arches and abnormal tongue swallow pattern.
Clinical symptoms of untreated SDB may include apart of grinding also excessive daytime sleepiness, failure to thrive, bed wetting, behavioural problems like ADD / ADHD and in more advanced cases cardiac complications.
As 85% of the nasal airway is made up of the maxilla (top jaw), the maxillary expansion plays very significant role in treatment of the upper airway obstruction.
Grinding in young children is an indication for upper arch expansion, as a part ofan Early Intervention Orthodontic treatment
Based on the results of the current study done inTufts University School Of Dental Medicine, 2011, sleep bruxism-related tooth wear is a clinical indicator for paediatric sleep disordered breathing (SDB), as measured by the RDI, allowing the dental practitioner to make prompt referral of the child to appropriate medical specialists concerned with the early diagnosis and management of this condition.