Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is often easy to spot in children. You might hear some gnashing or squeaky sounds coming from them aside from the occasional light snore or deep breathing that comes with sleep. There is usually not much to worry about as this is a common problem, with 1.5 to 3.3 out of every 10 children clenching or grinding.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
The causes of bruxism in children aren’t well known by experts, but there are a few possibilities:
- A response to pain such as teething pain or an earache.
- Stress, tension or anger. Kids might react by clenching and grinding if they are nervous about a test at school or if there is any fighting or arguing among parents and siblings at home.
- The bottom and top teeth may not be aligned.
- Medical conditions, like ADHD, nutritional deficiencies, allergies, endocrine disorders, cerebral palsy, etc.
The Effects of Teeth Grinding
Children who grind their teeth usually do so in two stages of their lives: 1) when they are teething and 2) when their adult teeth grow in. They usually outgrow this habit, but there can be some painful side effects or problems. For example, your child may experience jaw pain or locking, headaches, earaches, TMD or wear and tear of the enamel on teeth. In extreme circumstances, night-time grinding can also serve to chip your child’s teeth, increase their sensitivity to food and air temperature, and cause other severe facial pain and jaw issues, so it’s important to keep a handle on it.
How to Watch for Signs of Grinding?
Children are usually blissfully unaware of any problems like teeth grinding and clenching. Usually a sibling who might share a room with your child or you would have to identify the problem. Some signs to look out for are:
- Squeaky and grinding noises when your child is sleeping.
- Pain when your child chews.
- Complaints from the child about a sore face or jaw when they wake up.
If you believe your child is grinding his or her teeth, see a dentist who can examine the teeth and check for sensitivity, chipped enamel and wear and tear.
How to Treat Child Bruxism?
A few ways to help a child with bruxism is to:
- Relax them before bed to decrease any stress.
- Massage and help them stretch their jaw muscles.
- Give the child plenty of water because dehydration can be linked to bruxism.
If your child is a bit older and still grinding his or her adult teeth, you might want to look into having them fitted with a mouthguard. When teeth grinding continues through childhood and into the beginnings of teenage years, there is a good chance that the child will not outgrow this habit. To ensure no future jaw and teeth problems, the best thing you can do would be to see your dentist and have a mouthguard made and fitted to your child’s teeth.
Contact Dental Care Glebe to have a mouthguard fitted for your child today. We offer some of the best child dentistry in Sydney.