Are mental health problems and depression associated with bruxism in children?

Andréa Coimbra Renner, Antônio Augusto Moura da Silva, Juliana Dalla Martha Rodriguez, Vanda Maria Ferreira Simões, Marco Antonio Barbieri, Heloísa Bettiol, Erika Bárbara Abreu Fonseca Thomaz, Maria da Conceição Saraiva
Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 2012, 40 (3): 277-87

OBJECTIVES: Previous studies have found an association between bruxism and emotional and behavioral problems in children, but reported data are inconsistent. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of bruxism, and of its components clenching and grinding, and its associations with mental problems and depression.

METHODS: Data from two Brazilian birth cohorts were analyzed: one from 869 children in Ribeirão Preto - RP (São Paulo), a more developed city, and the other from 805 children in São Luís - SL (Maranhão). Current bruxism - evaluated by means of a questionnaire applied to the parents/persons responsible for the children - was defined when the habit of tooth clenching during daytime and/or tooth grinding at night still persisted until the time of the assessment. Additionally, the lifetime prevalence of clenching during daytime only and grinding at night only was also evaluated. Mental health problems were investigated using the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and depression using the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI). Analyses were carried out for each city: with the SDQ subscales (emotional symptoms, conduct problems, peer problems, attention/hyperactivity disorder), with the total score (sum of the subscales), and with the CDI. These analyses were performed considering different response variables: bruxism, clenching only, and grinding only. The risks were estimated using a Poisson regression model. Statistical inferences were based on 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).

RESULTS: There was a high prevalence of current bruxism: 28.7% in RP and 30.0% in SL. The prevalence of clenching was 20.3% in RP and 18.8% in SL, and grinding was found in 35.7% of the children in RP and 39.1% in SL. Multivariable analysis showed a significant association of bruxism with emotional symptoms and total SDQ score in both cities. When analyzed separately, teeth clenching was associated with emotional symptoms, peer problems, and total SDQ score; grinding was significantly associated with emotional symptoms and total SDQ score in RP and SL. Female sex appeared as a protective factor for bruxism, and for clenching and grinding in RP. Furthermore, maternal employment outside the home and white skin color of children were associated with increased prevalence of teeth clenching in SL.

CONCLUSIONS: Mental health problems were associated with bruxism, with teeth clenching only and grinding at night only. No association was detected between depression and bruxism, neither clenching nor grinding. But it is necessary to be cautious regarding the inferences from some of our results.

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