BACKGROUND: The etiopathogenesis of bruxism in children is not clear although different authors would associate it with several factors, changes in dentition, malocclusions, certain parasomnias and most notably emotional stress. This study was performed to test the hypothesis that anxiety states measured by "Anxiety Scale for evolutive age" may affect the development of bruxism. METHODS: A total of eighty-six children, aged between 7 and 1, were evaluated. In the study-group were enlisted forty-three children with bruxism selected among patients afferent to the paediatric dentistry clinic. The forty-three non bruxer children, the control group, were chosen through the Pair Matching procedures, so that each bruxer child had a matching age case control. The gravity of bruxism was scored by means of 0 to 3 graduated scale of dental wear. The psychological aspects were estimated by means of an Anxiety Scale for evolutive age. Statistical analysis was undertaken using the "Odds Ratio" on statistically significant values. The most significant level was evaluated by the Mc Nemar test. RESULTS: Remarkable differences in anxiety levels were found among the children of the two groups; 72% of bruxers showed significant anxiety scores versus 12% of non bruxers. The results of Odds Ratio reveal that a bruxer child has a 16 times greater probability to be anxious than an non bruxer one. CONCLUSIONS: The data provide support for the concept that anxiety state is a prominent factor in the development of bruxing behaviour in children.
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