Bruxism or teeth grinding is common in children and can lead to dental problems and discomfort. If your child is waking up with sore jaws or other symptoms of teeth grinding, it may be time to consult your pediatric dentist.
What is bruxism in children?
Bruxism is when a child grinds or clenches their teeth while not chewing. It usually occurs when sleeping, but it can also happen during waking hours. Often, they are not consciously aware that they are doing it.
What are the symptoms of bruxism?
About 15% – 20% of children regularly grind their teeth. Sometimes, parents may hear their children grinding their teeth in their sleep. But often, kids, like adults, may not even realize they’re grinding their teeth or clenching their jaw, making bruxism challenging to spot.
Some common symptoms and signs your child may experience while grinding or clenching their teeth include:
- Frequent headaches and earaches
- Jaw pain or difficulty chewing
- TMJ disorders (jaw clicking and other problems)
- Wear and tear on the teeth or tooth sensitivity
- Subtle mouth movements (from clenching) while the child watches TV, reads, studies, or focuses on a task
- Chattering or grinding sounds while sleeping
What causes teeth grinding in children?
The root cause for teeth grinding in children isn’t always 100% clear, and each case is unique. But it can usually be linked to one of these reasons:
- Pain from teething or an earache
- Teeth that aren’t aligned properly
- Stress, anxiety, or excitement – this is the most common cause of teeth grinding
- Medical reasons, like hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, or some types of medicines
- Sleep problems like snoring or sleep apnea
What is the treatment for teeth grinding?
While not every case is an emergency, there can be long-term effects in children who grind their teeth. There is an increased risk for TMJ, jaw problems, migraines, tooth sensitivity, and worn enamel. Each case of teeth grinding is different and requires a personalized treatment which may include the following:
- Nighttime mouth guards (for unconscious sleep grinders)
- Proactive and defensive sealants to protect tooth enamel
- Braces to correct alignment issues
- Therapy or counseling to address underlying stress
How can a parent help a child with bruxism?
As a parent, there are several things you can do to help your child with bruxism:
- Promote relaxation. Stress can trigger teeth clenching, so it’s important to help your child relax before bedtime. A warm bath, soothing music, or reading a book can go a long way to create a relaxing environment before bedtime.
- Use a mouthguard. A mouthguard can help protect your child’s teeth from the damage caused by teeth grinding at night.
- Make sure your child’s sleep environment is comfortable. This can include a comfortable mattress and pillows, a cool room temperature, and minimal noise.
- Encourage good dental hygiene. Good dental hygiene can help prevent dental problems associated with bruxism. Encourage your child to brush and floss regularly and visit the dentist for regular checkups.
- Talk to your child’s dentist. Have your child’s teeth evaluated by a pediatric dentist to assess the extent of the bruxism and recommend treatment options.
If your child is complaining about or experiencing symptoms of teeth clenching or teeth grinding, it’s important to discuss this with their pediatric dentist. Bruxism can be a frustrating condition for both parents and children. However, proper treatment and management can help your child have a healthy and happy smile.
Take a Proactive Approach to Pediatric Oral Health in Fleming Island, FL
At Growing Healthy Smiles in Fleming Island, FL, we make visiting a pediatric dentist easy for parents and kids with a fun, welcoming atmosphere and compassionate staff. Take charge of childhood oral health today!
Schedule an appointment to talk about teeth clenching or grinding treatment and prevention at Growing Healthy Smiles today by calling 904-215-7800.